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CjJ3 

M / 

COLLEGE 



MANUAL OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

AND 

CHRISTIAN PERFECTION 



MANUAL 

OF 

SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

AND 

CHRISTIAN PERFECTION 

COMPILED FROM VARIOUS SOURCES BY 

REV. JOHN HENRY, C.SS.R. 



REGIS 

BIBL. MAJ. 
(X>LLEGQ/ 



NEW YORK CINCINNATI CHICAGO 

BROTHERS 



PRINTERS TO THE 
HOLY APOSTOLIC SEE 



PUBLISHERS OF 
BENZIGER S MAGAZINE 



1913 



Cum permtssu Supctiorum. 

Wibii bstat. 

REMY LAFORT 

Censor Librorum 

ffmprfmatur. 

>! JOHN CARDINAL FARLEY 

Archbishop of New York 

NEW YORK, January 31, 1913 



COfYRIGHT, 1913, BY BENZIGER BROTHERS 



PREFACE 



KIND READER, here you have a 
small manual. The subjects 
contained in the first part were 
treated in various conferences to 
married men as well as in retreats to 
religious communities. In every in 
stance they were received very favor 
ably. This eventually suggested the 
idea that they might prove useful 
to a larger circle. With this view 
they were arranged for publication. 
It is hoped that in the present form 
they may prove useful to parents, in 
structors of youth, those charged with 
the care of the sick and invalids, and 



6 Preface 

even for the private use of all, espe 
cially those that experience a vocation 
to the religious or ecclesiastical state. 
May Our Lord and His blessed 
Mother bestow a blessing on all that 
read this manual and on 

THE COMPILER. 

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, 
February II, 1913. 



CONTENTS 



PART I. -SELF-KNOWLEDGE 

PACK 

Preface 5 

Introduction . . . . 9 

Temperament 19 

The Phlegmatic Temperament . . 28 
The Melancholic Temperament . . 38 
The Sanguinic Temperament .47 
The Choleric Temperament . . 54 
Corollary 58 

PART II. CHRISTIAN PERFECTION 
Perfection Consists in the Love of God 65 
The Perfection of Charity Consists in 

Conformity to the Will of God . 73 

vii 



viii Contents 

Means to Acquire Christian Perfection 94 

1. The Desire of Perfection . . 94 

2. Moral Necessity of Mental Prayer 1 1 2 

3. Method of Mental Prayer . .140 
Conclusion . , 166 



INTRODUCTION 



" J~\OMINE noverim Te noverim 
L^S me ut diligam Te et oderim 
me." O Lord, let me know Thee; 
let me know myself, that I may 
love Thee and detest myself." 
This petition of St. Augustine 
is the leading idea of this manual 
viz: Self-knowledge and the love of 
God. It does not pretend to be any 
thing new. It is a compilation of 
what is found treated by different au 
thors. The matter, therefore, is not 
new. "Nothing under the sun is 
new," says the Wise Man (Eccles. i. 
10). It is always best to repeat old 
truths in another and attractive form. 



io Introduction 

The eminent Jesuit, Father P. 
Judde, says no science is so necessary 
to man as self-knowledge. No one 
will deny that self-knowledge is 
valuable. By this means man 
learns to know his evil inclinations. 
This science teaches him which 
inclinations he must foster. Self- 
knowledge discloses to man what 
he has acquired, as well as what is 
yet to be attained, in the fulfilment of 
his duties and obligations. It must 
be evident to every one that self- 
knowledge is a great aid to man in all 
his undertakings. For is it not en 
couraging to know our capabilities? 
Self-knowledge is equally valuable in 
guarding against our shortcomings. 

If self-knowledge is valuable in 
general, it is necessary in the spiritual 
life. Everything that relates to the 
soul is of paramount importance. 



Introduction 1 1 

We know the soul is created by God 
and for God. Is it not a necessity to 
know we are walking the way of the 
Lord? Again, how will we be able 
to recognize that we are walking the 
way of the Lord, except by self- 
knowledge? Certainly, a thorough 
self-knowledge is here demanded. 
For, in order to walk the way of the 
Lord securely, as Father Judde adds, 
a spiritual director is required. Our 
Lord Himself tells us no one can be 
his own safe director. He says it 
would be a blind man leading the 
blind and both would fall into a pit. 
To this spiritual guide we must mani 
fest our interior. Now, this cannot 
be done unless we know the interior 
of our souls. That a spiritual guide is 
needed all spiritual writers concede. 
It is the only means to become secure. 
Celebrated philosophers arrived at 



12 Introduction 

this truth (namely, the necessity of 
self-knowledge) by the light of rea 
son alone. "Nosce teipsum" was the 
oft-inculcated injunction of the an 
cients. As an example, Rev. G. Dies- 
sel, C.SS.R., cites Pythagoras, who 
died in the year 507 before Christ. 
This great philosopher had numerous 
disciples. He demanded that his dis 
ciples in all tranquillity should twice a 
day propound to themselves these 
questions: What did you do this 
day? How did you do it? What 
have you omitted to do? 

In a word, all spiritual writers are 
agreed on the necessity of self-knowl 
edge. Why do they, one and all, 
insist on a daily and serious self- 
examination? It is because a daily 
and serious examination will produce 
true self-knowledge. True self- 
knowledge gives us a clear under- 



Introduction 13 

standing of our wretchedness and 
helplessness. It imparts to us the 
conviction that of ourselves we are 
but misery and sin. It also gives us 
a clear knowledge of the emotions 
and passions that principally influence 
our actions. This knowledge will en 
able us to lay aside our faults. Surely 
we must be acquainted with the faults 
and failings to which we are prone 
if we wish to know what is reprehen 
sible in our conduct. 

More than this : True self-knowl 
edge is one-half of the way on the 
road to perfection. The better we 
know our shortcomings the more we 
will feel incited to be freed from 
them. The greater the exertion of 
man on this point, the greater his 
progress. This caused the author of 
the Imitation to say that one s prog 
ress is commensurate with the vio- 



14 Introduction 

lence one does to himself. By remov 
ing all obstacles, true self-knowledge 
opens the way to union with God by 
charity. 

With the view of facilitating self- 
knowledge, the character traits, both 
favorable and unfavorable, of the dif 
ferent temperaments are treated in 
the first part of this little manual. 
Yet only the psychical traits of the 
temperaments will be treated. In 
other words, mention is made of the 
manner the human soul is influenced 
by temperament. Nothing will be 
said as to whether these tempera 
ments proceed from a lymphatic or 
nervous or pulmonary or other sys 
tem. This eliminates the physical 
traits of temperament. This part is 
left to scientists. It was also thought 
sufficient to treat of four tempera 
ments only: viz., the phlegmatic, mel- 



Introduction 15 

ancholic, sanguinic and choleric. It is 
possible to group the main character 
traits under these four divisions. It 
is unnecessary to discuss whether this 
division of temperament is correct. 
Some authors prefer a different classi 
fication of temperaments. Their di 
vision of temperament is certainly 
interesting. But the above is the most 
accepted one. It is also the oldest. 
On this account it was deemed suf 
ficient for the purpose of this 
manual. 

In this connection Pastoral The 
ology has not been overlooked. After 
the unfavorable and favorable traits 
of temperament have been given, the 
assistance of Pastoral Theology is 
added. To every temperament is 
added the method of direction proper 
to the temperament. This is done 
with a view of benefiting a greater 



1 6 Introduction 

number of readers. Confessors have 
ample guides in Pastoral Theology. 
Not so with others. This manual may 
be of assistance to others, besides can 
didates for the priesthood and the re 
ligious life. There are many engaged 
in the education of youth. These con 
stantly meet diverse and opposing 
dispositions in various pupils. This 
part may enable them to be of greater 
assistance to their pupils. Then, too v 
parents ofttimes perceive different 
dispositions among their children. 
True it is, they are members of the 
same family. But oh! the difference 
of likes and dislikes in the various 
members of the same family. This 
part of the treatise may possibly fur 
nish parents valuable aid. The same 
benefit may accrue to those in charge 
of the sick and invalids. Who is 
there that does not know how difficult 



Introduction 17 

is the proper care of the sick and 
invalids ! 

The second part of the manual 
treats of Christian perfection. The 
first part has opened the way. Self- 
knowledge is the beacon light. It 
directs the soul to the great truth that 
all its happiness consists in union with 
God by charity. "Restless is the 
heart of man until it rests in God * 
says St. Augustine. This part of the 
manual briefly indicates in what 
Christian perfection consists and the 
principal means to be employed to 
secure it. Part two is taken from the 
ascetical books of St. Alphonsus. 
Some chapters were translated from 
the second revised edition of "Schule 
der Christlichen V ollkommenheit" by 
Rev. Andrew Hellbach, C.SS.R. 
Other chapters were simply compiled 
from "The True Spouse of Christ/ 



1 8 Introduction 

by St. Alphonsus himself. It is not 
possible to find a safer and more zeal 
ous guide. Those who desire longer 
treatises on Christian perfection and 
the means thereto can easily consult 
the writings of this great saint. 
Where additions were taken from the 
writings of other writers the reader 
will always find that special mention 
is made. May this little manual now 
go forth with the blessing of Our 
Lord and His holy Mother. 



ON TEMPERAMENTS IN 
GENERAL 

A LEXANDER E. SANFORD, M. D., 

** in "Pastoral Medicine," says 
on page 266: "Within the last few 
decades the nervous diseases in their 
thousandfold shapes have increased 
to an alarming extent." And again 
on page 316: "Many a time it will 
become evident that the manifest 
inappetency for work, the reduced 
capability, the mental palsy, plain to 
all, the striking absence of mind, the 
inattention and apathy at school, 
bashful and reserved ways, that slight 
inclination to gloominess, that waver 
ing of the whole demeanor, that all 
19 



2O Temperaments in General 

these are not character traits, but a 
consequence of the conflict, the de 
fensive struggle, which the poor tor 
tured has to wage with the torturing 
process within." Rev. Joseph Anton- 
elli, Doctor and Professor, remarks 
that nervousness at the present day is 
so prevalent that scarcely one among 
a thousand is normal. 

Nevertheless, not all is disease. 
There are temperaments, as the ma 
jority of authors admit. It is neces 
sary to distinguish in each individual 
case between character traits and 
neurasthenia. The different disposi 
tions and propensities in the human 
body naturally influence the affections 
of the soul. This influence impresses 
a constant type or stamp on his 
actions. This is called temperament. 
All around us we see nature furnish 
ing materials. Many are imperfect, 



Temperaments In General 21 

possibly almost useless. Art must in 
tervene. Labor must render perfect. 
The same is true of temperament. 
Every one should endeavor to perfect 
the temperament given by God. Man 
must hew away what is rough. Man 
must reform what is amiss. Man 
must perfect what is good. Then all 
will redound to the great profit of the 
soul and will be of real service to 
others. 

Rothenflue remarks that the tem 
peraments are always intermingled, 
yet, so that one generally predomin 
ates. Thus, no temperament stands 
alone. The predominant tempera 
ment is intermixed with the character 
traits of one or more of the other 
temperaments. Besides the natural 
dispositions of a man, his tempera 
ment may also be greatly influenced 
by climate, surroundings, education 



22 Temperaments in General 

and advancing years. In fact, it may 
change in the progress of time. Then, 
too, as Rothenflue further remarks, 
one temperament possesses more 
happy traits than another. He says 
the most happy temperament is that 
one in which none predominates, 
where one counterbalances the other. 
Such a one is, as it were, born for a 
virtuous life. Yet, he and all philoso 
phers maintain, no matter how un 
happy one s temperament, man can, 
with a determined will, correct and 
modify it. Ascetical writers tell us this 
can be done better still by means of a 
good will united to the grace of God. 
God certainly grants his grace to all 
of good will. St. Augustine tells us 
it is our duty to correspond to the 
grace that God offers. God will en 
able us to attain our end, namely, 
union with Him by charity. The mis- 



Temperaments In General 23 

fortune is, so few are willing to make 
the proper effort. Thus, they become 
useless both to themselves and others. 
Let every one then endeavor to ob 
tain true self-knowledge in order to 
attain to the union with God by 
charity. 

No one need be discouraged. 
Every one should set to work with a 
determined will. A good will in 
union with the grace of God will 
accomplish everything. Next, every 
one should also be content with the 
temperament God has given him. No 
matter how unhappy the tempera 
ment, every one can attain, not only 
salvation, but also Christian perfec 
tion. As soon as man has obtained 
true self-knowledge, he has accom 
plished one-half of the task. Then, 
it remains for him to put into opera 
tion the means to obtain the love of 



24 Temperaments in General 

God. It would, however, be a great 
error to imagine that this can be ac 
complished at once. On the con 
trary, this is a task, a labor that will 
occupy him the balance of his days. 
Some resemble a certain class of sick 
people. When an infirmity seizes 
them, they readily take a few doses 
of medicine. Then they find they are 
not cured. In their impatience they 
blame the physician with a want of 
knowledge and insist there is no vir 
tue in the medicine prescribed. Let no 
one imagine he can attain perfection 
at once. How many years does not 
the student employ in hard study, 
oftentimes fraught with poverty and 
privation, before he can become a 
lawyer, physician or architect! 

What wonder then that we dis 
cover numberless defects when we 
proceed to obtain self-knowledge. In 



Temperaments in General 25 

the spiritual life, also, years of toil, 
exertion and disappointments are to 
be met. In connection herewith one 
instance from the lives of the Fathers 
of the Desert may be cited. St. Isi 
dore, one of the disciples of St. An 
thony, is the one selected. Some time 
after he had been elevated to the 
priestly dignity, he became Superior 
of the Religious of the Desert of 
Scete. This saint had a special talent 
from God to heal the maladies of the 
soul. Whenever other Superiors 
were in favor of dismissing any of 
their subjects on account of negli 
gence, slothfulness, impatience, pas 
sion or other defects, he desired that 
they be brought to him. By treating 
them with his usual charity, humility 
and patience, he generally brought 
them to a right sense of their duty 
and in time cured them effectually of 



26 Temperaments in General 

all their vices and faults. This is a 
universal experience. No one can 
flatter himself that he is perfect in 
the beginning of his career. Some 
lose courage and because of cow 
ardice give up the combat little by 
little, as did some disciples of St. Isi 
dore. Again, it will require a long 
struggle, this fight against sins, faults, 
and imperfections. Only those con 
quer that persevere resolutely, for, 
even St. Isidore could not accomplish 
everything at once. In some in 
stances he could accomplish nothing. 
The incident also goes to show that 
assistance of the spiritual director 
renders the one directed not only se 
cure, but is at the same time most val 
uable, because encouraging. More 
than this, it is the only means to ob 
tain certainty that we are on the road 
to perfection. 



Temperaments in General 27 

Lastly, should it appear surprising 
that so much is said on temperaments, 
the following may serve as answer. 
Rev. P. Vercruysse, S.J., says: "To 
gain our souls the Good Shepherd ac 
commodates Himself to our inclina 
tions, frailties and humors. 
Examine your past! Possibly you 
will discover many instances of the 
Divine Goodness and Meekness ac 
commodating Itself to your character, 
temperament, desires and inclina 
tions." (Meditation for the Thurs 
day after the third Sunday after 
Easter). If Our Lord takes into 
consideration our temperament, etc., 
it will not be amiss on our part to act 
similarly. 



THE PHLEGMATIC TEM 
PERAMENT 

WE WILL begin with the dis 
advantageous traits of this 
temperament. The characteristics 
of this temperament are sloth and 
indifference. Both sloth and in 
difference are unfortunate traits. 
Sloth prevents the phlegmatic from 
making efforts. He is averse to 
exertion. His indifference renders this 
still more difficult. His disposition 
greatly inclines him to sweet idleness: 
Dolce far niente. But, is there noth 
ing that is attractive to the phleg 
matic? There is. He is fond of 
good cheer. He loves the pleasures 
of a good table as much as he detests 
28 



Phlegmatic Temperament 29 

labor. If these sensual pleasures are 
beyond his means, his thoughts will 
invariably revert to them. These 
fancies of the imagination have great 
attraction for him. There is some 
thing more that fascinates him. He 
has a strong leaning to mechanical 
pursuits. Mechanical occupations 
charm him. He finds them congenial. 
He loves to tinker. Here he mani 
fests a great endurance. But they 
must not disturb his equanimity. 
They must not rob him of his even 
ness of mind. It is consequently very 
natural that he detests all labor of a 
higher order. The very inclination 
to mechanical labors is the reason 
that he is not suited to applying dili 
gently to science and learning. He 
greatly dislikes all effort in this direc 
tion. His indifference is opposed to 
arduous application to earnest study. 



30 Phlegmatic Temperament 

The very same holds good in regard 
to the practises of the spiritual life. 
It is not in him to apply with energy 
and diligence to the practises of vir 
tue. An efficacious pursuit of Chris 
tian perfection is very much against 
his grain. He is too slothful. He is 
too indifferent. You cannot inspire 
him with enthusiasm for religious 
practises. He feels little inclination 
for acts of virtue. The reason is that 
naturally he exhibits as little acute- 
ness, as he possesses little imagination 
and energy. It appears impossible 
to arouse him to enthusiasm. He 
may, perchance, exhibit good judg 
ment and more intellect. Yet these, 
too, are dull, spiritless and indiffer 
ent. In this connection the celebrated 
Benedictine, Father Schram, remarks 
that persons that were choleric in 
their youth may become phlegmatic 



Phlegmatic Temperament 31 

in advancing years. They will espe 
cially be noted, for prudence. This 
results from their experience in the 
previous conduct of affairs. Finally 
it is necessary to point out a grave 
danger to which this tempera 
ment inclines. This is effeminacy. 
This inclination draws man violently 
to the gratification of sensual pleas 
ures. Silent waters flow deep. Nat 
urally quiet and taciturn, the phleg 
matic may easily yield to this 
inclination. This is exceedingly dan 
gerous. Should the phlegmatic yield 
in this respect, it may develop into an 
incurable passion. 

Now we turn to the favorable 
traits of this character. One great 
advantage of this temperament is that 
the phlegmatic is gentle by nature. 
This is a most estimable disposition. 
He is greatly inclined to be patient 



32 Phlegmatic Temperament 

and peaceable. Certainly most ami 
able qualities. They prevent strife 
and quarrels. He is averse to clamor 
and noise. Another good trait is, he t 
is easy to govern. On this account he 
will cause little trouble to those that 
are charged with directing his con 
duct. Furthermore, he is undisturbed 
by good as well as adverse events. 
He will not easily lose his equanimity. 
His calm temper prevents him from 
being elated with excessive joy in 
prosperous events. If, on the con 
trary, he meets with adverse fortune, 
he is not unduly depressed. Thus he 
is consequent and constant in all his 
undertakings. Another good charac 
teristic of the phlegmatic is, he is 
tenacious of tradition. Novelties have 
no attraction for him. It is easy for 
him to follow the prescribed rules. 
Every one will quickly understand 



Phlegmatic Temperament 33 

how beneficial this disposition is, both 
for himself and his associates. In 
consequence he invariably exhibits 
punctuality. This is natural. For he 
is disposed to be conscientious. He is 
trustworthy; certainly a most esti 
mable quality. Another endearing 
quality of this temperament is sim 
plicity. Every one detests duplicity. 
But freedom from a propensity to 
cunning is esteemed universally. 
Lastly some of the most estimable 
character traits of this temperament 
are honesty and sincerity. 

Now what is to be observed in the 
pastoral order regarding this tem 
perament? The dispositions of this 
temperament are such that very much 
depends on the proper direction. If 
the phlegmatic is left to himself he 
is helpless. He is timid and pusillani 
mous. He invariably finds its diffi- 



34 Phlegmatic Temperament 

cult or even impossible to come to a 
decision. His vacillating disposition 
renders him inconstant. Parents can 
be of great assistance to these char 
acters by imitating the example of 
Blanche, the saintly mother of St. 
Louis of France. It is related of her 
that when little Louis was four or 
five years of age she would tenderly 
address him: "My son, you know 
how very much I love you, but I 
would rather behold you a corpse 
than know you had the misfortune of 
committing a mortal sin." Such in 
struction will greatly strengthen the 
will against the allurements of sen 
suality. Especially when these per 
sons appear silent and taciturn they 
must be roused. Next, parents must 
curb their own ambition. They may 
perceive that a child possesses talent. 
Naturally, they would willingly give 



Phlegmatic Temperament 35 

him a liberal education. But the 
phlegmatic possesses no ambition. 
He is not inclined to continue his 
studies. He shows more aptitude to 
embrace some honest trade. Let him 
have his choice and keep him to it. 
In this case it is best to let him be sat 
isfied with an elementary education 
only. If he is compelled to continue 
his studies, he will have no desire to 
profit by his accomplishments. He 
will simply give himself to idleness. 
Whilst, if he had adopted some trade, 
he would have become a useful mem 
ber of society. Similar to this is the 
task of instructors who may have 
pupils of this temperament. They 
will find that their charges are easily 
discouraged at the difficulties in the 
elementary course. These characters 
need a firm hand to guide them. But 
above all mildness must predominate. 



36 Phlegmatic Temperament 

Severity is apt to completely discour 
age such characters. Instructors need 
an equal amount of patience. It is a 
most difficult task to be incessantly en 
couraging them in their studies. The 
preceptor must esteem his uninter 
rupted efforts amply rewarded, if such 
pupils can be induced to make ordi 
nary efforts. The same holds good in 
the spiritual life in the practice of vir 
tue. The phlegmatic exhibits no en 
thusiasm to strive after Christian per 
fection. He abhors mortification. 
He dislikes constant and generous ef 
forts. This is owing to his inclina 
tion to effeminacy. It is absolutely 
necessary incessantly to arouse him 
to make efforts to acquire the true 
love of God. The spiritual director 
will find the greatest difficulty in de 
ciding whether such subjects have a 
true vocation for a religious life. 



Phlegmatic Temperament 37 

The director must endeavor to instill 
a great confidence in the assistance of 
divine grace in such subjects. They 
can, and will, then make persevering 
efforts for their own good and that 
of many others. They will labor 
quietly and unostentatiously, but still 
earnestly, to acquire Christian perfec 
tion and true love of God. 



THE MELANCHOLIC TEM 
PERAMENT 

IF THERE is a temperament with 
very unfortunate characteristics, 
it is certainly the melancholic. Ex 
ternally this temperament manifests 
but slight receptibility. Apparently 
the melancholic seems to remain 
unmoved. He manifests no emotion. 
He appears to be very indifferent to 
the external world, to everything that 
goes on around him. But, in his 
imagination he construes an interior 
world, the ideals of which cannot be 
realized. He is both slow and obsti 
nate. This obstinancy causes him to 
be very tenacious of his own opinions. 
He is never contented. Being a se- 
38 



Melancholic Temperament 39 

vere censor of morals, he fails to dis 
cover anything good in others. 
Naturally, he is uncongenial. In con 
sequence of this, he exhibits great and 
constant irritability. It is, therefore, 
not surprising that he is inclined to be 
suspicious of others. He is apt to 
offend others by imagining they 
have something against him, or are 
dissatisfied with him, or, perhaps, are 
opposed to him. He is convinced that 
he is misjudged. This causes him to 
be distant and possibly offensive in his 
intercourse. His fondness for soli 
tude inclines him to singularity. In 
consequence, he is reserved and 
wholly engrossed in himself. When 
offended or in case he imagines an 
affront has been offered him, he be 
comes vindictive. He nourishes 
hatred and aversion. He desires to 
revenge himself. At the same time 



40 Melancholic Temperament 

he is capable of bestowing the most 
ardent friendship on some, individu 
ally, to the complete exclusion of all 
others. He may become a prey to 
vehement passions. But these he will 
conceal in his interior. He may se 
cretly indulge in vice. He possesses 
an unreasonable self-conceit. He 
fosters within himself an over-esti 
mation of superiority. This readily 
leads him to despise others. In a 
word, he may be a votary to extrava 
gant, nay absurd, fanatical, heretical 
and suicidal ideas, as Rev. Joseph 
Antonelli, Doctor and Professor, 
remarks. 

The following deserves special 
mention: The learned Benedictine, 
Father Schram, distinguishes two va 
rieties of the melancholic tempera 
ment. One, he says, is allied to the 
choleric temperament. It drives men 



Melancholic Temperament 41 

to fury and insanity. It renders them 
bold and vindictive. It makes them 
traitors. Such persons become cruel 
and prone to every wickedness. If 
such characters give themselves to 
contemplation, they yield to obstinate 
and enduring illusions. They must 
be quickly recalled from contempla 
tion, lest by their imaginary revela 
tions they infect others with similar 
insane ideas. The other kind pos 
sesses more the traits of the sanguinic 
temperament. This inclines man to 
be docile, mild and gentle. The char 
acteristic trait of this temperament is 
a moderate sadness. It is tranquil in 
action. It is profound in all under 
takings. It possesses weight and ma 
turity in judgment. Father Schram 
and authors in general admit that 
every truly great, wise, and prudent 
man has evinced traits of this tern- 



42 Melancholic Temperament 

perament. Nay, in advancing years 
those may attain these characteristics 
who, in youth were endowed with a 
choleric temperament. Such persons 
are well suited to become good ad 
visers, prudent leaders and men of 
learning. If such become devoted to 
the spiritual life they are apt to ex 
cel and become masters, owing to 
their prudence and discretion. 

This temperament has many good 
qualities. The first is firmness of pur 
pose. When the melancholic has 
taken a resolution, difficulties will not 
swerve him from his purpose. Nay, 
the greater the obstacles, the more 
his courage will increase. The 
greater the difficulties that present 
themselves, the more arduous become 
his efforts. At the same time he is 
prudent and reserved. These quali 
ties prevent him from acting precipi- 



Melancholic Temperament 43 

tately and imprudently. He acts only 
after mature deliberation. When he 
has arrived at a decision, his ardor 
also is aroused. For this tempera 
ment displays energy in a marked de 
gree. If the melancholic gives him 
self to the pursuit of science he will 
not rest until he has fathomed the 
depths of learning. The same holds 
good in regard to asceticism as Dr. 
Albert Stockl (Lehrbuch der Philoso- 
phie) and other authors remark: 
The melancholic loves the sublime 
and terrific. He delights in the super 
natural. He loves contemplation. 
Thus the pursuit and practise of vir 
tue is for him an agreeable task. He 
will earnestly strive after solid vir 
tue. His ardent mind is easily con 
vinced that God is the only and true 
Good. He therefore yields himself 
to the service of God with all the 



44 Melancholic Temperament 

ardor of which this temperament is 
capable. 

The direction of this temperament 
must, above all, be considerate and 
circumspect. The director should 
combine prudence and consideration 
in regard to this temperament. He 
will greatly err if he is abrupt and 
exacting. In this he must imitate 
the example of the physician 
who first endeavors to gain the 
confidence of his patient before 
attempting directly to effect a 
cure. He must exert himself to con 
vince the subject that he has his best 
interests at heart. Fortunate is the 
director if he succeeds in this respect. 
Let him strive to gain the good will 
of the subject. Then all the difficul 
ties of the melancholic will vanish, 
both in the pursuit of science and in 
the practise of virtue. The melan- 



Melancholic Temperament 4$ 

cholic will accomplish great things in 
both respects. He will readily give 
himself wholly to God with all the 
ardor proper to this temperament. 

On one occasion the Venerable 
Father Joseph Passerat, C.SS.R., 
was addressing a number of ecclesi 
astical students. He made the re 
mark that the devil assails religious 
persons in particular with the tempta 
tion to melancholy. Satan does this 
to discourage them. He instils a de 
sire to seek pleasure in idle conversa 
tions; to see, read and hear all that is 
going on; to be popular, to enjoy un 
restrained freedom. According to St. 
Paul, "the sorrow of the world work- 
eth death" (2 Cor. vii. 10). In the 
same verse St. Paul says: u The sor 
row that is according to God worketh 
penance steadfast to salvation." 
(Ibid.) Holy sadness will cause the 



46 Melancholic Temperament 

soul to seek solitude in order to con 
verse with God. It keeps the soul in 
humility by recalling the faults com 
mitted and the fund of corruption ex 
isting in human nature. (Rev. Louis 
Brochain, C.SS.R.) This holy sad 
ness will enable all, and in particular 
the melancholic, to make progress in 
self-knowledge. The next step is to 
cling more and more closely to God 
by true love. 



THE SANGUINIC TEMPERA 
MENT 

THE SANGUINIC is the tempera 
ment of levity, as Rev. John 
Ev. Pruner, D.D., remarks (Lehr- 
buch der Pastoral Theologie} : The 
sanguinic abhors labor and exer 
tion. Yet, strange to say, he equally 
abominates quietude. His charac 
teristic is thoughtlessness. He de 
lights in various, humoring desires 
and pursuits. But these moods 
must be fraught with constant 
change and alteration. He mani 
fests great enthusiasm for truth 
and goodness and beauty. But 
this disposition vanishes quickly. He 
47 



48 Sanguinlc Temperament 

is as readily moved to tears as to 
laughter. He is naturally frolicsome. 
Yet, his gaiety readily degenerates 
into wantonness. He possesses an 
unlimited fondness for dissipation, 
distractions and noisy gatherings. 
Another trait of this temperament is 
fickleness. When charged with any 
duty he is apt to neglect fulfilling it. 
Or, he may attempt it, but as fre 
quently performs his task only par 
tially. No matter how provoking 
this may be to others, he is totally un 
concerned. Lastly, his resentment is 
quickly aroused. However, it is not 
enduring. He is prone to forgive 
and forget. 

There are, nevertheless, several es 
timable qualities this temperament en 
joys. The sanguinic is endowed with 
a quick perception. He rapidly dis 
cerns everything. He is, likewise, 



Sanguinic Temperament 49 

endowed with a vivid imagination. 
He can rapidly progress in his 
studies. Unhappily, he is totally 
averse to continued application. He 
desires to accomplish everything; but 
nothing wholly and thoroughly. As 
a rule, he reflects very little. Conse 
quently, he judges precipitately. An 
other provoking trait is this: The 
sanguinic promises much and per 
forms little. He is not a friend of 
solitude, but delights to mingle in so 
ciety. He forms friendships quickly, 
these, however, are not enduring. 
On the other hand he is much in 
clined to particular friendships, so 
called. No one need be surprised 
that he has favorites and confidants. 
The great evil resulting therefrom is 
his proneness to form a clique. This 
is most disastrous should he happen 
to be a member of some community. 



50 Sangulnic Temperament 

The inevitable result will be innumer 
able jealousies, suspicions and parties. 
On the other hand the advantage 
ous traits of this temperament are 
worthy of esteem. No temperament 
is so well suited as this to make a man 
a useful member of a community. By 
nature he is inclined to serve others. 
It is a pleasure to ask favors of him. 
He is always ready to give his serv 
ices. He is forgiving. Though he 
has been wronged, he is not inclined 
to harbor an ill will towards the of 
fender. He will quickly forget the 
wrong done to him. At the same 
time he is indulgent to the faults of 
others. He will not judge harshly 
nor treat his companions with sever 
ity. One trait that especially endears 
him to his associates is his frank 
ness. All that have intercourse with 
him are charmed by his cheerful dis- 



Sanguinic Temperament 51 

position. Then, too, he is apt to cap 
tivate others, because he is a ready 
speaker. One of the greatest advan 
tages of this temperament is, that, 
without much difficulty it can accom 
modate itself to a life of obedience 
and spirituality. 

We will now consider the proper 
direction of this temperament. The 
sanguinic stands greatly in need of a 
kind, but withal firm direction. If 
directed in accordance with the good 
characteristics of this temperament 
the sanguinic is apt to make great and 
rapid progress in the practise of vir 
tue. The director must strive to in 
duce the sanguinic to conquer his in 
clination to effeminacy. He must 
teach him to strive for manliness. He 
must instruct him to combat his tend 
ency to ease and enjoyment. He must 
insist that the sanguinic resolutely 



52 Sanguinic Temperament 

combat his proneness to sensibility 
and various emotions. The sanguinic 
must be told to embrace mortification 
energetically. With all his strength 
and energy he must act against his 
inborn allurements. He must con 
quer his aversion to prayer and the 
reception of the sacraments. For the 
sanguinic finds it difficult to perform 
his duties in this regard with fervor 
and devotion. Owing to his natural 
vacillation, the sanguinic finds it gall 
ing to follow a fixed rule of life. 
He must, therefore, be held to an 
orderly and conscientious fulfilment 
of his prescribed duties. The san 
guinic will find it very perplexing to 
subject himself to unremitting efforts. 
One day he will be all fervor and 
resolution. Very quickly, however, 
he imagines all his strength and de 
termination have vanished. On this 



Sanguinic Temperament 53 

account it is necessary to recommend 
to him an especial devotion to the 
Blessed Virgin. Mary is the Mother 
of Grace. From the very beginning 
of his spiritual life he should strive to 
confide in her motherly assistance. 
He should frequently place his sole 
reliance in this Help of Christians. 

Closely similar must be the guid 
ance of the sanguinic if he applies 
either to studies or other useful em 
ployment. In case he is talented he 
will be full of courage, as long as he 
succeeds. When he meets with diffi 
culties or happens to fail, he becomes 
discouraged. He imagines he ought 
to take up some other pursuit. If, on 
the contrary, he is not gifted with 
talent, it is necessary to encourage 
him incessantly. He will repeatedly 
give up every effort and exertion. 



THE CHOLERIC TEMPERA 
MENT, 

FIRST, come the traits of this tem 
perament that are more or 
less dangerous. The choleric tem 
perament is gifted with an energetic 
mind and an indomitable will. 
Energy and determination are its 
characteristic traits. The choleric 
is also endowed with a fervid imagi 
nation. Honor, glory, dominion are 
his idols. He, so to speak, wor 
ships at the altar of fame. By every 
means possible he endeavors to pro 
cure renown for himself. He seeks 
celebrity by extensively praising his 
own achievements and accomplish 
ments. His heart s desire is to exer- 
64 



Choleric Temperament 55 

cise sway over ethers. Hence pride 
is his predominant passion. Again, 
as a rule, he is too impetuous, alto 
gether too passionate. This renders 
him fond of strife. He finds great 
satisfaction in raising quarrels. If he 
meets with failure in all this he is 
little contented; he is seldom happy. 
But, the worst of all happens if the 
choleric should embrace a career of 
wickedness. Then he becomes con 
tumacious, brazenfaced and incorri 
gible. He will prefer death to humil 
iation. If chastisement is inflicted 
on him, he will conceal his vices. By 
no means will he amend. 

The good traits of this temper- 
ment are very serviceable in many 
respects. The choleric has an indom 
itable courage. He is not deterred 
by obstacles. At the same time 
he is magnanimous. He is ever 



56 Choleric Temperament 

ready to sacrifice his feelings and 
interests. Other good traits are 
constancy and fortitude. These en 
able him to achieve his purpose. If 
the choleric selects the pursuits of 
arts and sciences, he is apt to excel. 
For he will make noble efforts. If 
he choose a military career he will be 
a hero in war. However, he is in 
danger of becoming tyrannical, if 
invested with authority. Lastly, if 
he turns to the practises of a virtuous 
life, he will strive perseveringly for 
perfection. He will be noted for a 
profound humility. He will exhibit 
great constancy in the practises of a 
penitential life. He will be tireless 
in the observance of spiritual exer 
cises. His obedience will be prompt. 
In fact, when his ardor has been 
inflamed by higher motives, he will be 
full of zeal for the best interests of 



Choleric Temperament 57 

his fellowmen. In a word, in all his 
undertakings he will be orderly and 
inciting. 

The direction of this temperament 
must be above all firm and manly. 
The choleric abhors weakness and 
indecision. He finds it congenial to 
be placed under restraint. He is ad 
verse to indulgence. He is opposed 
to being humored. He loves to be 
told his dutes unreservedly and de 
cisively. Yet, this must be done 
calmly and without passion. 



COROLLARY 

Now, kind reader, you may feel 
inclined to institute a com 
parison between these different tem 
peraments. You may ask which of 
them is preferable. You will perceive 
the phlegmatic abounds in judgment, 
or, if you prefer, in intellect. The 
sanguinic excels in sentiment. The 
melancholic is greatly influenced by 
the imagination. The choleric towers 
over the others in will-power. Yet 
as R. Kiest (Die Erzlehung im El- 
ternhause) states, it would be mis 
leading to prefer one temperament 
to another. Every temperament has 
its bright side as well as its unfavor 
able characteristics. Neither may 
68 



Corollary 59 

you assert that any one is led astray 
by the evil influences of his tempera 
ment. He cannot invoke these latter 
as an excuse for or justification of sin 
or wrong. For, if any one goes 
wrong, it is his own fault and want of 
proper direction. The root lies in 
the wrong tendency of his own self 
ishness. Similarly, the advantageous 
traits of the temperaments are of no 
moral value. Of themselves, they do 
not proceed from, nor lead to self- 
renunciation. 

It will, however, be of great ad 
vantage to observe the distinguishing 
and analogous characteristics of 
these temperanients. These four 
temperaments form, as it were, two 
groups. Each group contains two 
temperaments that have distinguish 
ing, but withal analogous, characteris 
tics. They rest on the same founda- 



60 Corollary 

tion. There is an affinity between 
them. Thus there is an affinity 
between the melancholic and sangui- 
nic temperaments. All their ten 
dencies are personal, relate to the 
individual. The melancholic strives to 
refer everything to his own use and 
enjoyment. The sanguinic finds de 
light, amusement, in everything. 
These are the receptive tempera 
ments. The choleric and phlegmatic 
temperaments relate to things exter 
nal. The choleric endeavors to cul 
tivate, change and ameliorate every 
thing. The phlegmatic is intent on 
appropriating, putting in order and 
preserving things. These are the 
operative or spontaneous characters. 
These two groups are mutually re 
pellent. Very seldom do they amal 
gamate. On the contrary, they avoid 
one another, they shun one another. 



Corollary 61 

They even antagonize one another. 
Thus you will not meet with choleric- 
phlegmatic or melancholic-sanguinic. 
But you will find choleric-melancholic, 
choleric-sanguinic; as well as phleg 
matic-melancholic and phlegmatic- 
sanguinic characters. The reason is 
that, in every individual there is 
found a fundamental temperament. 
This is circumscribed by another, but 
less pronounced temperament. 

There are some unfortunate char 
acters that have a well-nigh irresist 
ible tendency to a career of crime. 
These unfortunates have a most 
violent hankering for lust. This is 
called the erotic temperament. It 
may be hereditary. It may be 
adventitious. In this connection it 
will suffice to notice the following. 
Rev. Jos. Aertuys, C.SS.R. Theologia 
Pastoralis (Temperamenta), Rev. 



62 Corollary 

Jos. Antonelli, Medicina Pastoralis 
(Temperamenta), and Alexander E. 
Sanford, M.D., Pastoral Medicine 
(Appendix, Neurasthenia), remark 
that this temperament requires both 
a somatic and psychical treatment. 
These unhappy souls must be placed 
under the direction of a spiritual 
adviser as soon as possible. 



PART II 



CHRISTIAN PERFECTION, 

THERE are, according to the Rev. 
Fr. Desurmout, C.SS.R., two 
methods of striving after perfection. 
The one, which he calls analytic, 
consists in the practise of the 
moral virtues in order to arrive at 
the love of God. The other is the 
synthetic. It consists in the practise 
of the love of God from which will 
follow all other virtues. The latter 
is the method of St. Alphonsus, the 
one he practised himself; the one he 
ordinarily advocates in his ascetical 
writings and which he principally 
develops in his book: "Practise of 
the Love of Jesus Christ." (Rev. 
65 



66 Christian Perfection 

H. R. Boumaus, C.SS.R., Seconde 
Retraite.) 

St. Alphonsus says all the sanctity, 
all the perfection of a soul, consists 
in the love of Jesus Christ, our God, 
our greatest Good and Redeemer. 
Our Lord says : "For the Father him 
self loveth you, because you have 
loved me." (John xvi. 27.) St. 
Francis de Sales remarks that some 
place their perfection in works of 
penance, others in prayer, others 
again in the frequent reception of the 
sacraments or in alms-deeds, but they 
are all mistaken. All perfection con 
sists in loving God with one s whole 
heart. This explains to us why the 
Apostle principally admonishes us to 
charity, calling it the bond of perfec 
tion. "But above all those things 
have charity, which is the bond of 
perfection." (Col. iii. 14.) For 



Christian Perfection 67 

charity contains and sustains all the 
virtues that render man perfect. 
Hence the maxim of St. Augustine: 
"Love God and do what you will." 
As soon as a soul loves God, she is 
inclined to avoid everything displeas 
ing to her amiable Lord and to do all 
that is pleasing to Him. 

"Charity," says St. Bernard, u is 
something great, something pre 
cious." Solomon says of wisdom 
(which is the same as divine char 
ity) that it is an inexhaustible treas 
ure. "She is an infinite treasure to 
men! Which they that use become 
the friends of God." (Wis. vii. 14.) 
For he that possesses the love 
of God participates in the friend 
ship of God. St. Thomas teaches 
that the love of God is the queen of 
virtues; for where divine charity 
reigns all other virtues are certain 



68 Christian Perfection 

to follow. They, as it were, form 
her retinue. She utilizes them all 
to unite us more intimately to God. 
Strictly taken, it is charity that unites 
us to God according to the words of 
St. Bernard, Charity is the virtue 
that unites man to God." Holy Writ 
also frequently testifies that God 
loves those that love Him. (Prov. 
viii. 17.) "I love them that love 
Me. If anyone loves Me My Father 
will love him, and we will come to 
him, and will make our abode with 
him." (John xiv. 23.) "God is 
charity, and he that abideth in char 
ity, abideth in God, and God in him." 
( i John iv. 1 6.) 

Moreover charity imparts the 
strength to do and suffer all for God. 
"For love is strong as death." 
Nothing, St. Augustine declares, is 
too difficult, for great charity to 



Christian Perfection 69 

accomplish, for where there is love 
there is no exertion, or the exertion 
itself is loved. Let us hear what St. 
John Chrysostom asserts of the 
effects of divine charity in a soul. 
"Where the love of God has taken 
possession of a soul it enkindles in her 
an insatiable desire to labor for the 
object of her love. No matter how 
many and great things such a soul 
accomplishes, no matter how much 
time such a soul may devote to the 
service of the Lord, she esteems all 
this as nothing incessantly she la 
ments she is doing so little for God. 
And she would deem herself happy 
were it granted her to die and be 
entirely consumed for Him. Thus 
she appears in her own eyes as useless 
however much she may accomplish. 
For love teaches her what God 
deserves. By the medium of that 



70 Christian Perfection 

heavenly light she recognizes how 
faulty are her actions. She finds 
but occasion for regret and confusion, 
because she understands but too well 
that all she does is very little for so 
great a Lord." 

Oh! did but all men comprehend 
the great truth. "But one thing is 
necessary." (Luke x. 42.) It is not 
necessary to be wealthy, to acquire 
esteem, to lead a comfortable life, to 
fill honorable positions and be re 
garded as learned. The one thing 
necessary consists in loving God and 
doing His holy will. For this alone 
did He create us, and for this alone 
does He preserve us. In this way 
alone can we attain our salvation, 
reach perfection and gain heaven. 
"Put Me," says the Lord to every 
soul that wishes to be united to Him 
and become His spouse, "as a seal 



Christian Perfection 71 

upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy 
arm." (Canticle viii. 6.) "In order 
to direct all your actions and desires 
to Me, upon thy heart that no other 
love enter there except My love 
upon thy arm that in all you do you 
have no other end than Me." O 
how quickly will we attain perfection 
when we have Jesus crucified for our 
end and seek to please Him alone in 
all we do ! 

No one shows better the excellence 
of the love of God than St. Paul, the 
great panegyrist of this queen of all 
virtues in i Cor. xiii. 4-7. There he 
mentions the characteristics of true 
love and points out the virtues charity 
produces in the soul. "Charity is 
patient, is kind : Charity envieth not, 
dealeth not perversely; is not puffed 
up, is not ambitious, seeketh not her 
own, is not provoked to anger, think- 



72 Christian Perfection 

eth no evil. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, 
but rejoiceth with the truth : Beareth 
all things, believeth all things, hopeth 
all things, endureth all things." 



THE PERFECTION OF CHAR- 
ITY CONSISTS IN CONFOR 
MITY TO THE WILL OF 
GOD 

ALL our perfection consists in the 
love of our infinitely amiable 
God. But the perfection of charity 
consists in the conformity of our 
will with the will of God. For 
as St. Dionysius the Areopagite 
teaches (De div. nom. c. 4), the 
principal effect of love consists 
therein that, it unites the hearts of 
the lovers most intimately, to the 
extent that they have but one will. 
Thus the more we are one with the 
will of God, the greater is our love 
73 



74 The Perfection of Charity 

of God. As hatred holds apart the 
will among enemies, love unites the 
will among lovers. Thus St. Jerome 
writes, "Two persons will love one 
another truly, when one desires but 
what the other wills." For this rea 
son the Book of Wisdom says, "They 
that are faithful in love shall rest in 
Him." (Wis. iii. 9.) Souls that are 
attached to God in true love concur 
in everything He arranges. Accord 
ingly, St. Francis de Sales was right 
in maintaining that piety consists in 
the firm will to do everything one 
knows to be pleasing to God. St. 
Thomas maintains the same, saying, 
"Piety consists in the readiness to do 
all that God demands." 

In order that a thing may be good 
and perfect it must conform to its 
destiny. Thus a tool is good only, 
when it is serviceable to the work- 



The Perfection of Charity 75 

man in his labor. For of what use 
will it be otherwise? Thus, of what 
use to a decorator will a brush be 
that resists his hand, that goes to the 
left when the delineator wishes it to 
go to the right, that rises when he 
wishes it to descend? Would not 
the artist instantly cast such a brush 
into the fire ? Man is in this world to 
serve God only and thus glorify Him. 
This sublime end he can attain only 
by doing the will of God, the 
Supreme Lord. If, therefore, man 
desires to be good and perfect he 
must spend his life in accomplishing 
what God wills. 

Does a man that follows his own 
inclinations serve God? Certainly 
not ! Let us take the case of a man 
that has two servants. The one la 
bors unceasingly all day long but does 
what is pleasing to himself only. 



76 The Perfection of Charity 

The other exerts himself less, but is 
subservient in all things. 

Certainly the master will cherish 
the latter but not the former. The 
malice of sin consists in willing what 
God does not will. For sin, accord 
ing to St. Anselm is, so to speak, an 
attempt to rob God of His crown. 
"He that follows his own will," says 
St. Anselm, u robs, as it were, God of 
His crown. For as crowns belong to 
kings only so it belongs to God to 
carry out His will independently of 
others." Indeed according to the 
words of Samuel to Saul it is a 
species of idolatry to refuse to be 
directed by God s will. "It is like the 
crime of idolatry, to refuse to obey." 
(i Kings xv. 23.) He is right, for 
instead of adoring the will of God 
man worships his own will. In as far 
as the whole malice of a creature con- 



The Perfection of Chanty 77 

sists in resisting God, thus all his 
greatness consists in making the will 
of God his own. According to the 
prophet Isaias God gives a soul that 
seeks his good pleasure the name 
"My Will." "My pleasure in her." 
(Is. Ixii. 4.) This appellation is 
fully justified for the will of God 
lives in him that has forsaken 
his own will. In order to be ac 
cording to the heart of God, a 
Christian must accomplish His holy 
will. "I have found David . 
a man according to my own heart, 
who shall do all my wills." (Acts 
xiii. 22.) That great king, as he 
often attests, was ever ready to fulfil 
the Word of God. "My heart is 
ready, O God, my heart is ready." 
(Ps. Ivi. 8.) All he desired was 
that God teach him to accomplish 
His holy will, "Make the way known 



78 The Perfection of Charity 

to me, wherein I should walk," (Ps- 
cxlii. 8), he sighed. O how happy is 
the man that can always say with the 
spouse in the Canticles u My soul 
melted, when he spoke." (Canticle 
v. 6.) As liquids have no form of 
their own but take the form of the 
vessel that contains them, thus the 
souls that love God have no will of 
their own but correspond in all things 
to their beloved; or rather they have 
a pliable heart that conforms itself 
to everything that is pleasing to the 
Lord in opposition to the hard 
hearted that resist Him. 

How can our works be conducive 
to the honor of God if they are not 
accomplished according to His good 
pleasure? "And Samuel said, Doth 
the Lord desire holocausts and vic 
tims, and not rather that the voice 
of the Lord should be obeyed?" 



The Perfection of Charity 79 

(i Kings xv. 22.) The greatest 
honor we can bestow on God consists 
in doing His holy will in all things. 
This our divine Saviour sought to 
teach us by example when He came 
down upon this earth to spread the 
honor of His heavenly Father among 
men. Listen ! St. Paul makes Him 
address His eternal Father, "Sacri 
fice and oblation Thou wouldest 
not; but a body Thou hast fitted 
to me. . . . Then said I: "Be 
hold I come to do Thy will O God." 
(Hebrews x. 5, 9.) That is, "The 
holocaust offered Thee by men Thou 
hast rejected. Thou wiliest that I 
should sacrifice to Thee the body 
Thou has given me. Behold I 
am ready to accomplish Thy will." 
Our Saviour attested repeatedly that 
He had come to do the will of His 
Father. "I came down from heaven, 



8o The Perfection of Charity 

not to do my own will, but the will of 
Him that sent me." (St. John vi. 
38.) He declares He will look upon 
him who accomplishes the will of God 
as a brother. "For whosoever shall 
do the will of My Father, that is 
in heaven, he is my brother." 
.(Matt. xii. 50.) The saints had 
no other object in all they did than to 
do the will of God according to the 
example of their divine Master. 
They knew full well that the perfec 
tion of a soul consists therein. 
.Blessed Henry Suso says, " God does 
not demand that we enjoy many and 
sublime revelations but that in all 
things we subject ourselves to the will 
of God." St. Teresa said: "During 
meditation we should not seek any 
thing else than to make our will con 
formable to the will of God, being 
persuaded that herein consists the 



The Perfection of Charity 8 1 

height of perfection. He that excels 
in this regard will also receive the 
greatest gifts of grace from God and 
make the greatest progress in the 
interior life." (Castles of the Soul II. 
Chapt. i.) One day the blessed Do 
minican Sister Stephanie of Soncino 
was transported in spirit into heaven. 
There she saw several souls among 
the Seraphim she had known on 
earth. It was revealed to her they 
had attained this sublime degree of 
glory because they had practised 
conformity to the will of God so 
perfectly on earth. 

From the blessed denizens of 
heaven we must learn how to love 
God. Their pure and perfect love 
of our Lord consists in the perfect 
oneness of their will with His. 
Should the Seraphim happen to be 
lieve it to be God s will that for all 



82 The Perfection of Chanty 

eternity they should heap up the 
sands on the shores of the oceans or 
root out the weeds in the gardens, 
they would do so with the greatest 
joy. Nay, should God utter the wish 
that they burn in hell they would 
instantly plunge themselves into the 
fiery abyss to comply with His holy 
will. Therefore our Lord teaches 
us to pray that we on earth may ac 
complish the will of God as the 
Angels are doing in heaven. u Thy 
will be done on earth as it is in 
heaven." 

Since we possess nothing that is so 
dear to us as our own will the sacri 
fice of it is the most pleasing offering 
we can give the Lord. It is also 
the sacrifice that he most urgently 
demands, saying: "My son, give me 
the heart." (Prov. xxiii. 26.) That 
is to say, thy will. St. Augustine 



The Perfection of Charity 83 

says we cannot offer God anything 
more pleasing than when we say: 
"Take entire possession of us, we 
give Thee our entire will." He that 
gives to God his own will gives Him 
everything. He that offers God his 
property in bestowing alms, his blood 
by scourging, his food by fasting 
gives a part of what he possesses. 
But he that gives God his own will 
gives Him everything and can then 
say: "O Lord, I am poor (have but 
little to offer) but I will give Thee all 
I am able to give; after giving up my 
will nothing more remains to me that 
I could give." 

In order that this sacrifice be per 
fect it must possess two qualities: it 
must be entire and constant. Some 
persons do give their will to God but 
with a sort of reservation. Such a 
gift is not very pleasing to God. 



84 The Perfection of Charity 

Others give God their will but later 
on take the gift back again. These 
are in the greatest danger of being 
abandoned by God. To avert such 
a misfortune all our efforts, all our 
desires and prayers ought to be for 
perseverance that we may never de 
sire aught but what God wills. Let 
us daily renew our entire abandon 
ment into the hands of God. Let us 
beware of desiring anything what 
ever except the good pleasure of God. 
This will rid us of all passions, con 
cupiscences, fear and disorderly at 
tachments. One act of perfect con 
formity to the will if God is able to 
lead us to perfection. Let us look 
on Saul. When on the point of 
persecuting the Christians he is en 
lightened and converted by Jesus 
Christ. What does Saul do? What 
does he say? One thing only. He 



The Perfection of Charity 85 

pledges himself to do the will of 
God. "Lord, what wilt thou have 
me to do?" (Acts ix. 6.) Behold, at 
once the Lord calls him a vessel of 
election to carry his name before the 
Gentiles. 

Very few Christians understand 
wherein true piety consists. The 
majority accommodate it to their 
inclinations. If they are sad they 
seek solitude. If they feel drawn to 
an active life, they devote themselves 
to works for the zeal of souls. If 
they feel drawn to a life of severity 
they practise penance and mortifica 
tion. If they are inclined to liber 
ality they give alms. Others prac 
tise prayer and devotions dili 
gently, and in these things they 
place their whole sanctity. All 
these are mistaken. The external 
works may be the fruit of the love of 



86 The Perfection of Charity 

God. But the essence of charity is 
entire conformity with the divine will. 
On that account it is necessary to 
renounce oneself and choose what is 
most pleasing to God from the sole 
motive that He is deserving of it. 

Those that place sanctity in under 
going penances, in receiving Commu 
nion frequently, and reciting many 
vocal prayers, most certainly deceive 
themselves. Perfection does not con 
sist in these things. According to St. 
Thomas, perfection consists in sub 
jecting oneself to the will of God. 
Penances, prayers, communions are 
good only in as far as God 
wills them. If they are not ac 
cording to the will of God instead 
of taking pleasure in them God will 
detest and punish them. They are, 
therefore, means to unite us to the 
divine will. But, I repeat, all per- 



The Perfection of Charity 87 

fection, all sanctity, consists in doing 
what God demands of us. In a word 
the divine will is the criterion of all 
that is good and is virtuous. As the 
will of God is holy it sanctifies every 
thing, even in different works, pro 
vided they are performed to please 
God. 

A great servant of God was right 
in saying, "It is better to resolve to 
do the will of God than to seek the 
honor of God." For if we perform 
His will we also promote His honor. 
Hence we deceive ourselves if, under 
the pretext of seeking the honor of 
God, we follow our own will. From 
all that has been said it follows 
clearly that, if we wish to sanctify 
ourselves we must be wholly intent 
on doing not our will but the will of 
God. All the divine commandments 
and counsels have the purpose that 



88 The Perfection of Charity 

we do and suffer what God wills and 
as He wills. Hence all perfection 
can be summed up in the words, u Do 
all that God wills, will all that God 
wills" and this with the sole purpose 
of pleasing Him. "Is it not therefore 
true that all can become saints, men 
and women, young and old, maidens 
and mothers of families, rich and 
poor, rulers and subjects, masters 
and apprentices, merchants and sol 
diers, business men and officials?" 
(Rev. A. Hellbach, C.SS.R.) 

If we desire to please the heart of 
God completely we must not be con 
tent to conform ourselves to His will, 
but we must strive, so to speak, to 
become one with His will. We con 
form ourselves to the will of God 
simply by directing our will to the 
will of God. But we become one 
with His will when we make but one 



The Perfection of Charity 89 

will of both, when we will only what 
God wills. Or if we so totally re 
nounce our own will that the will of 
God alone remains and becomes ours. 
This is the height of perfection for 
which we should strive incessantly. 
All our actions, desires, meditations 
and prayers must tend to this. To 
strive for this more effectually we 
must ask for the assistance of our 
patron saints, our angel guardian, of 
St. Joseph, and above all of the 
blessed Mother of God. The bless- 
ed Virgin Mary is the holiest of 
creatures, because she most perfectly 
carried out the will of God. 

The pious Dominican Father, John 
Tauler, relates the following incident 
that happened to himself. For a num 
ber of years he had ardently and 
fervently prayed God to send him 
some one that might instruct him in 



90 The Perfection of Charity 

the truly spiritual life. One day he 
heard a voice saying, "Go to that 
church and you will find what you 
are seeking." The father obeyed. 
At the door of the church pointed 
out to him, he met a beggar, bare 
footed and clothed in rags. He 
saluted him with the words: "Good 
day, my friend." "Father," the poor 
man replied, "I cannot remember 
ever having had a bad day." "Well," 
replied the Father, "may God grant 
you a happy life!" "Thank God!" 
said the beggar, "I have never been 
unhappy," adding, "Father, it is not 
without reason that I say I never had 
a bad day. For, when I suffer hunger 
I praise God; when it snows or rains 
I bless Him ; when any one treats me 
with contempt, repels me or when I 
have other sufferings I praise the 
Lord for them. I said I never felt 



The Perfection of Chanty 91 

unhappy and that, also, is true. I am 
accustomed to will unreservedly all 
that God wills. Whatever comes 
upon me, sweet and bitter, I joyfully 
accept from his hand as best for me. 
And in this consists my good for 
tune." "But," said Father Tauler, 
"should God wish to condemn you 
to hell what would you say then?" 
"Should God will that," answered the 
beggar, "I would, in love and humil 
ity, so firmly embrace Our Lord that 
if He cast me into hell He would 
necessarily have to follow me. And, 
then, I would feel happier in hell in 
His holy embrace than without Him 
in the enjoyment of all the joys of 
paradise." "Where did you find 
God?" "I found Him when I left 
creatures." "But who are you?" 
"I am a king." "Where is your king 
dom?" "In my heart where all is 



92 The Perfection of Charity 

kept in strict order; for my passions 
obey reason and my reason obeys 
God." Finally Father Tauler asked 
the beggar how he had attained such 
perfection. "By keeping silence with 
men in order to commune with God 
and by constantly remaining united to 
God, who is my peace and enjoy 
ment." Thus this poor beggar had 
attained great perfection; despite 
poverty he esteemed himself richer 
than all the princes of the earth; de 
spite suffering he esteemed himself 
happier than men in the midst of all 
earthly pleasures. 

O my God, I thank Thee for hav 
ing made the road to perfection so 
easy. I am determined henceforth, 
with the assistance of Thy grace, to 
walk the way of perfection. For this 
purpose I unite myself unreservedly 
to Thy will because it is always most 



The Perfection of Charity 93 

holy, most good, most beautiful, most 
perfect, most amiable. O will of my 
God, how dear Thou art to me! I 
desire to live and die intimately 
united to Thy will. What is pleasing 
to Thee will be pleasing to me. Thy 
desires will also be my desires. O 
my God, assist me : grant that hence 
forth I may live to wish that only 
which Thou desirest and in order to 
accomplish Thy amiable will. I 
detest the days on which I did my 
own will to Thy great displeasure. I 
love Thee, O will of my God, as much 
as I love God, because Thou art one 
with God. 



MEANS OF ACQUIRING 
PERFECTION 

THE DESIRE OF PERFECTION 
HOLY DESIRES ARE USEFUL AND 

EVEN NECESSARY 

AN ardent desire of perfection is 
the first means that a Christian 
should adopt in order to acquire 
sanctity and to consecrate his 
whole being to God. As the 
sportsman, to hit a bird in flight, 
must take aim in advance of his prey, 
so a Christian, to make progress in 
virtue, should aspire to the highest 
degree of holiness which it is in his 
power to attain. "Who," says holy 
David, u will give me wings like a 
94 



Acquiring Perfection 95 

dove, and I will fly and be at rest." 
(Ps. liv. 7.) Who will give me 
the wings of the dove to fly to my 
God, and, divested of all earthly af 
fection, to repose in the bosom of the 
divinity? Holy desires are the 
blessed wings with which the saints 
burst every worltlly tie, and fly to the 
mountain of perfection, where they 
find that peace which the world can 
not give. 

But how do fervent desires make 
the soul fly to God? "They," says 
St. Laurence Justinian, "supply 
strength and render pains light and 
tolerable." (De Disc. mon. c. 6.) 
On the one hand, good desires give 
strength and courage, and on the 
other they diminish the labor and fa 
tigue of ascending the mountain of 
God. Whosoever, through diffidence 
of attaining sanctity, does not ar- 



96 Acquiring Perfection 

dently desire to become a saint, will 
never arrive at perfection. Amanwho 
is desirous of obtaining a valuable 
treasure which he knows is to be 
found at the top of a lofty mountain, 
but who, through fear of fatigue and 
difficulty, has no desire of ascending, 
will never advance a single step to 
ward the wished-for object, but will 
remain below in careless indifference 
and inactivity. And he who, because 
the path of virtue appears to him nar 
row and rugged and difficult to be 
trodden, does not desire to climb up 
the mountain of the Lord, and to 
gain the treasure of perfection, will 
always continue in a state of tepidity, 
and will never make the smallest 
progress in the way of God. 

On the contrary, he who does not 
desire, and does not strenuously en 
deavor, always to advance in holi- 



Acquiring Perfection 97 

ness, will, as we learn from experi 
ence and from all the masters of the 
spiritual life, go backward in the 
path of virtue, and will be exposed to 
a great danger of eternal misery. 
"The path of the just," says Solo 
mon, "as a shining light goeth for 
ward and increaseth even to perfect 
day. The way of the wicked is dark 
some : they know not when they fall." 
(Prov. iv. 1 8, 19.) As light in 
creases constantly from sunrise to full 
day, so the path of the saints always 
advances; but the way of the sinners 
becomes continually more dark and 
gloomy, till they know not where 
they go, and at length walk over a 
precipice. "Not to advance," says 
St. Augustine, "is to go back." (Ep. 
17, E. B.) St. Gregory (Past. p. 3, 
c. i.) beautifully explains this maxim 
of spiritual life by comparing a Chris- 



98 Acquiring Perfection 

tian who seeks to remain stationary 
in the path of virtue to a man who 
is on a boat in a rapidly-flowing river, 
and striving to keep the boat always 
in the same position. If the boat be 
not continually propelled against the 
current, it will be carried away in the 
opposite direction, and consequently, 
without continual exertion, its sta 
tion cannot be maintained. Since 
the fall of Adam man is nat 
urally inclined to evil from his 
birth. "For the imagination and 
thought of man s heart are prone 
to evil from his youth." (Gen. 
viii. 21.) If he does not push for 
ward, if he does not endeavor, by in 
cessant efforts, to improve in sanctity, 
the very current of passion will carry 
him back. "Since you do not wish to 
proceed," says St. Bernard, address 
ing a tepid soul, "you must fail." 



Acquiring Perfection 99 

"By no means," she replies; "I wish 
to live and remain in my present 
state. I will not consent to be worse; 
and I do not desire to be better." 
"You, then," rejoins the saint, "wish 
what is impossible." (Ep. 254. ) Be 
cause in the way of God, a Christian 
must either go forward and advance 
in virtue, or go backward and rush 
headlong into vice. 

In seeking eternal salvation, we 
must, according to St. Paul, never 
rest, but must run continually in the 
way of perfection, that we may win 
the prize, and secure an incorruptible 
crown. "So run that you may ob 
tain." (i Cor. ix. 24.) If we fail, 
the fault will be ours; for God 
wills that all be holy and perfect. 
"This is the will of God your 
sanctification." ( i Thess. iv. 3.) He 
even commands us to be perfect 



ioo Acquiring Perfection 

and holy. "Be you therefore 
perfect, as also your Heavenly 
Father is perfect." (Matt. v. 48.) 
"Be holy because I am holy." 
(Lev. xi. 44.) He promises and 
gives, as the holy Council of Trent 
teaches, abundant strength, for the 
observance of all His commands, to 
those who ask it from Him. "God 
does not command impossibilities; 
but by His precepts He admonishes 
you to do what you can, and to ask 
what you cannot do; and He assists 
you, that you may be able to do it. 
(Sess. vi. c. n.) God does not com 
mand impossibilities; but he requires 
us to do what we can by the aid of his 
ordinary grace; and when greater 
helps are necessary, he exhorts us to 
seek them by humble prayer. He will 
infallibly attend to our petitions, and 
enable us to observe all, even the 



Acquiring Perfection toi 

most difficult, of His commandments. 
Take courage, then, and adopt the 
advice of the Venerable Father 
Torres to a religious, who was one 
of his penitents: "Let us, my child, 
put on the wings of strong desires, 
that, quitting the earth, we may fly to 
our Spouse and our Beloved, who ex 
pects us in the blessed kingdom of 
eternity." 

St. Augustine teaches that the life 
of a good Christian is one continued 
longing after perfection. "The 
whole life," says the saint, "of a good 
Christian is holy desire." ( i Jo. tr. 
4.) He that cherishes not in his 
heart the desire of sanctity, may be 
a Christian; but he will not be a good 
one. 

As it is impossible to arrive at per 
fection in any art or science without 
ardent desires of its attainment, so 



IO2 Acquiring Perfection 

no one has ever yet become a saint, 
but by strong and fervent aspirations 
after sanctity. "God," observes St. 
Teresa, "ordinarily confers his signal 
favors on those only who thirst after 
His love." "Blessed," says the 
Royal Prophet, "is the man whose 
help is from Thee: in his heart he 
hath disposed to ascend by steps in 
the vale of tears. . . . They 
shall go from virtue to virtue." (Ps. 
Ixxxiii. 6, 7, 8.) Happy the man 
who has resolved in his soul to mount 
the ladder of perfection: he shall re 
ceive abundant aid from God, and 
will ascend from virtue to virtue. 
Such has been the practise of the 
saints, and especially of St. Andrew 
Avellino, who even bound himself by 
vow "to advance continually in the 
way of Christian perfection." (Offic. 
10 Nov.) St. Teresa used to say 



Acquiring Perfection 103 

that "God rewards, even in this life, 
every good desire." It was by good 
desires that the saints arrived in a 
short time at a sublime degree of 
sanctity. "Being made perfect in a 
short space, he fulfilled a long time." 
(Wis. iv. 13.) It was thus that St. 
Aloysius, who lived but twenty-five 
years, acquired such perfection, that 
St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, who 
saw him in bliss, declared that his 
glory appeared equal to that of most 
of the saints. In the vision he said 
to her: "My eminent sanctity was 
the fruit of an ardent desire, which I 
cherished during my life, of loving 
God as much as He deserves to be 
loved : and being unable to love Him 
with that infinite love which He 
merits, I suffered on earth a continual 
martyrdom of love, for which I am 



IO4 Acquiring Perfection 

now raised to that transcendent glory 
which I enjoy." 

The works of St. Teresa contain, 
besides those that have been already 
adduced, many beautiful passages on 
this subject. "Our thoughts," says 
the saint, "should be aspiring: from 
great desires all our good shall 
come." In another place she says: 
"We must not lower our desires, but 
should trust in God, that by continual 
exertion we shall, by his grace, ar 
rive at sanctity and the felicity of the 
saints." Again she says: "The di 
vine Majesty takes complacency in 
generous souls who are diffident in 
themselves." The great saint as 
serted that in all her experience she 
never knew a timid Christian to at 
tain as much virtue in many years as 
certain courageous souls acquire in a 
few days. The reading of the lives 



Acquiring Perfection 105] 

of the saints contributes greatly to 
infuse courage into the soul. 

It will be particularly useful to 
read the lives of those who, after be 
ing great sinners, became eminent 
saints; such as the lives of St. Mary 
Magdalen, St. Augustine, St. Pelagia, 
St. Mary of Egypt, and especially of 
St. Margaret of Cortona, who was 
for many years in a state of damna 
tion, but even then cherished a desire 
of sanctity, and who, after her con 
version, flew to perfection with such 
rapidity, that she merited to learn by 
revelation, even in this life, not only 
that she was predestined to glory, but 
also that a place was prepared for 
her among the seraphim. 

St. Teresa says that the devil seeks 
to persuade us that it would be pride 
in us to desire a high degree of per 
fection, or to wish to imitate the 



106 Acquiring Perfection 

saints. She adds, that it is a great 
delusion to regard strong desires of 
sanctity as the offspring of pride; for 
it is not pride when a soul diffident of 
herself and trusting only in the power 
of God, resolves to walk courage 
ously in the way of perfection, saying 
with the Apostle: "I can do all 
things in Him who strengtheneth 
me." (Phil. vi. 13.) Of myself I 
can do nothing; but by His aid I shall 
be able to do all things, and therefore 
I resolve, with his grace, to desire to 
love Him as the saints have loved 
Him. 

It is very profitable frequently to 
aspire after the most exalted virtue, 
and to desire it; such as to love God 
more than all the saints; to suffer for 
the love of Him more than all the 
martyrs; to bear and to pardon all 
injuries; to embrace every sort of fa- 



Acquiring Perfection 107 

tigue and suffering, for the sake of 
saving a single soul; and to perform 
similar acts of perfect charity. Be 
cause these holy aspirations and de 
sires, though their object may never 
be attained, are, in the first place, 
very meritorious in the sight of God, 
who glories in men of good will, as 
He abominates a perverse heart and 
evil inclinations. Secondly, because the 
habit of aspiring to heroic sanctity 
animates and encourages the soul to 
perform acts of ordinary and easy 
virtue. Hence, it is of great impor 
tance to propose in the morning to 
labor as much as possible for God 
during the day; to resolve to bear pa 
tiently all crosses and contradictions; 
to observe constant recollection; and 
to make continual acts of the love of 
God. Such was the practise of the 
seraphic St. Francis. "He pro- 



io8 Acquiring Perfection 

posed," says St. Bonaventure, "with 
the grace of Jesus Christ, to do 
great things. * St. Teresa asserts 
that "the Lord is as well pleased with 
good desires as with their fulfil 
ment." Oh ! how much better it is to 
serve God than to serve the world. 
To acquire goods of the earth, to 
procure wealth, honors and applause 
of men, it is not enough to pant after 
them with ardor; no, to desire and 
not to obtain them only renders their 
absence more painful. But to merit 
the riches and the favor of God, it is 
sufficient to desire His grace and love. 
St. Augustine relates that in a con 
vent of hermits there entered two offi 
cers of the emperor s court, one of 
whom began to read the life of St. 
Anthony. "He read," says the holy 
Doctor, "and his heart was stripped 
of the world." Turning to his com- 



Acquiring Perfection 109 

panion, he said: " What do we seek? 
Can we expect from the emperor any 
thing better than his friendship? 
Through how many dangers are we 
to reach still greater perils? and how 
long shall this last? Fools that we 
have been, shall we still continue to 
serve the emperor in the midst of so 
many labors, fears and troubles? We 
can hope for nothing better than his 
favor; and should we obtain it, we 
would only increase the danger of our 
eternal reprobation. It is only with 
difficulty that we shall ever procure 
the patronage of Caesar, but if I will 
it, behold I am in a moment the 
friend of God." (Conf. i. 8, c. 6.) 
Because whoever wishes with a true 
and resolute desire for the friendship 
of God, instantly obtains it. 

I say, "with a true and resolute 
desire," for little profit is derived 



no Acquiring Perfection 

from the fruitless desires of slothful 
souls, who always desire to be saints, 
but never advance a single step in the 
way of God. Of them Solomon says : 
"The sluggard willeth and willeth 
not." (Prov. xiii. 4.) And again: 
"Desires kill the slothful." (Ibid. 
xxi. 25.) The tepid soul desires per 
fection, but reflecting on the fatigue 
necessary for its attainment, she de 
sires it not. Thus "she willeth and 
willeth not." Her desires of sanctity 
are not efficacious ; they have for their 
object means of salvation incompat 
ible with her state. ... "I do not," 
says St. Francis de Sales, "approve of 
the conduct of those who, while 
bound by an obligation, or placed 
in any state, spend their time 
in wishing for another manner 
of life, inconsistent with their 
duties; or for exercises incompatible 



Acquiring Perfection 1 1 1 

with their present state. For these 
desires dissipate the heart, and make 
it languish in the necessary exer 
cises." (Introduct. ch. 37.) It is, 
then, the duty of every Christian to 
aspire only after that perfection 
which is suitable to his present state 
and to his actual obligations; and 
whether a superior, or a subject, 
whether in sickness or in health, the 
vigor of youth or the imbecility of 
old age, to adopt, resolutely, the 
means of sanctity suitable to his con 
dition of life. "The devil," says St. 
Teresa, "sometimes persuades us that 
we have acquired the virtue, for ex 
ample, of patience, because we de 
termine to suffer a great deal for 
God. We feel really convinced that 
we are ready to accept any cross, 
however great, for his sake; and this 
conviction makes us quite content, for 



1 12 Acquiring Perfection 

the devil assists us to believe that we 
are willing to bear all things for God. 
I advise you not to trust much to such 
virtue, not to think that you even 
know it, except in name, until you see 
it tried. It will probably happen that 
on the first occasion of contradiction 
all this patience will fall to the 
ground." 

MORAL NECESSITY OF MENTAL 
PRAYER 

Let us now come to what is 
most important the means to be 
adopted for acquiring perfection. 
The principal means is mental prayer, 
and particularly the meditation 
of the claims which God has to 
our love, and of the love which he 
has borne us, especially in the great 
work of redemption. To redeem us, 



Acquiring Perfection 113 

a God has even sacrificed His life in 
a sea of sorrows and contempt; and 
to obtain our love he has gone so 
far as to make Himself our food. 
To inflame the soul with the fire of 
divine love, these truths must be 
frequently meditated. "In my med 
itation," says David, "a fire shall 
flame out." (Ps. xxxviii. 4). When 
I contemplate the goodness of my 
God, the flames of charity fill my 
whole heart. 

Let us examine what makes men 
tal prayer so necessary. 

i. In the first place, without men 
tal prayer a soul is without light. 
"They," says St. Augustine, "who 
keep their eyes shut, cannot see the 
way of their country."* The eter- 

* By insisting on the moral necessity 
of mental prayer, St. Alphonsus does not 
demand that every one must follow a certain 
method. There are many methods and de- 



114 Acquiring Perfection 

nal truths are all spiritual things 
that are seen, not with the eyes of 
the body, but with the eyes of the 
mind, that is, by reflection and con 
sideration. Now, they who do not 
make use of mental prayer do not 
see these truths, nor do they see the 
importance of eternal salvation, and 
the means that they must adopt in 

grees of mental prayer. There is a method 
of mental prayer that all can use, viz., calling 
to mind a sermon; reading from some pious 
book and stopping between the sentences ; then 
reflecting a moment, applying the reading, etc., 
to oneself, making short aspirations, asking 
for pardon, for help of grace and taking an 
appropriate resolution. By this means many 
are converted on missions and in retreats. 
This sort of mental prayer may be said to be 
necessary for all Christians to obtain conver 
sion and holy perseverance. By reflecting on 
the disadvantageous traits of one s temper 
ament, as explained above, it will be easy to 
discover the faults to which one is prone. 
This reflection will render easy the petitions 
for one s spiritual wants. To facilitate this 
sort of mental prayer, the prayers composed 
by St. Alphonsus were retained in the follow 
ing chapters. 



Acquiring Perfection 11$ 

order to obtain it. The loss of so 
many souls arises from the neglect 
of considering the great affair of our 
salvation, and what we must do in 
order to be saved. "With deso 
lation," says the prophet Jeremias, 
"is all the land made desolate: 
because there is none that considereth 
in the heart." (Jer. xii. 11.) On 
the other hand, the Lord says that 
he who keeps before his eyes the 
truths of faith, death, judgment, and 
the happy or unhappy eternity that 
awaits us, shall never fall into sin. 
"In all thy works remember thy last 
end, and thou shalt never sin." 
(Ecclus. vii. 40.) "Come near to 
Him," says David, "and you shall 
be enlightened." (Ps. xxxiii. 6.) In 
another place our Saviour says "Let 
your loins be girt, and lamps burn 
ing in your hands." (Luke xii. 35.) 



1 1 6 Acquiring Perfection 

These lamps are, according to St. 
Bonaventure, holy meditations; for 
in prayer the Lord speaks to us, 
and enlightens, in order to show us 
the way of salvation. "Thy word is a 
lamp to my feet." (Ps. cxviii. 105.) 
St. Bonaventure also says that men 
tal prayer is, as it were, a mirror, in 
which we see all the stains of the soul. 
In a letter to the Bishop of Osma, 
St. Teresa says: "Although it ap 
pears to us that we have no im 
perfections, still when God opens 
the eyes of the soul, as He usually 
does in prayer, our imperfections are 
then clearly seen." (Letter viii. ) He 
who does not make mental prayer 
does not even know his defects, and 
therefore, as St. Bernard says, he 
does not abhor them. (De Consid. 
i. i, c. 2.) He does not even know 
the dangers to which his eternal 



Acquiring Perfection 117 

salvation is exposed, and therefore he 
does not even think of avoiding them. 
But he that applies himself to med 
itation instantly sees his faults, and 
the dangers of perdition, and seeing 
them, he will reflect on the remedies 
for them. By meditating on eternity, 
David was excited to the practise of 
virtue, and to sorrow and works of 
penance for his sins. U I thought 
upon the days of old, and I had in my 
mind the eternal years, . . . and I 
was exercised, and I swept my 
spirit. * (Ixxvi. 6.) The spouse in the 
Canticles said: "The flowers have ap 
peared in our land: the time of prun 
ing is come: the voice of the turtle is 
heard in our land." (Cant. ii. 12.) 
When the soul, like the solitary tur 
tle, retires and recollects itself in 
meditation to converse with God, 
then the flowers, that is, good desires 



1 1 8 Acquiring Perfection 

appear; then comes the time of prun 
ing, that is, the correction of faults 
that are discovered in mental prayer. 
"Consider," says St. Bernard, "that 
the time of pruning is at hand, if the 
time of meditation has gone before." 
(De Consid. 12, c. 6.) "For," says 
the saint in another place, "medi 
tation regulates the affections, di 
rects the actions, and corrects de 
fects." (Ibid, i, 2, c. 7.) 

Besides, without meditation there 
is not strength to resist the tempta 
tions of our enemies, and to practise 
the virtues of the Gospel. "Medi 
tation," says the Venerable Bartholo 
mew of the Martyrs, "is like fire with 
regard to iron, which when cold is 
hard, and can be wrought only with 
difficulty, but placed in the fire it be 
comes soft, and the workman gives it 
any form he wishes." To observe the 



Acquiring Perfection 119 

divine precepts and counsels, it is nec 
essary to have a tender heart, that is, 
a heart docile and prepared to receive 
the impressions of celestial inspira 
tions, and ready to obey them. It 
was this that Solomon asked of God: 
"Give, therefore, to thy servant an 
understanding heart." (3 Kings, 
iii. 9.) Sin has made our heart hard 
and undocile; for being altogether 
inclined to sensual pleasures, it re 
sists, as the Apostle complained, the 
laws of the spirit. "But I see another 
law in my members fighting against 
the law of my mind." (Rom. vii. 
23.) But the soul is rendered 
docile and tender to the influence of 
grace that is communicated in men 
tal prayer. By the contemplation of 
the divine goodness, the great love 
which God has borne him, and the 
immense benefits that God has be- 



I2O Acquiring Perfection 

stowed upon him, man is inflamed 
with love, his heart is softened, 
and made obedient to the divine 
inspirations. But without mental 
prayer his heart will remain hard and 
restive and disobedient, and thus he 
he shall be lost. "A hard heart shall 
fare evil at the last." (Ecclus. iii. 
27.) Hence, St. Bernard exhorted 
Pope Eugene never to omit medita 
tion on account of external occupa 
tions. "I fear for you, O Eugene, 
lest the multitude of affairs (prayer 
and consideration being intermitted), 
may bring you to a hard heart, which 
abhors not itself, because it perceives 
not." (Consid. i. i. c. 2.) 

Some may imagine that the long 
time which devout souls give to 
prayer, and which they could spend 
in useful works, is unprofitable and 
lost time. But such persons know not 



Acquiring Perfection 121 

that in mental prayer souls acquire 
strength to conquer enemies and prac 
tise virtue. "From the leisure," says 
St. Bernard, "strength comes forth." 
Hence the Lord commanded that 
his spouse should not be disturbed. 
"I adjure you . . . that you stir not 
up, nor make the beloved to awake 
till she please." (Cant. ii. 7.) He 
says, until she please : for the sleep or 
repose which the soul takes in men 
tal prayer is perfectly voluntary, but 
is at the same time necessary for its 
spiritual life. He who does not 
sleep, has not strength to work, nor 
to walk, but goes tottering along the 
way. The soul that does not repose 
and acquire strength in meditation is 
not able to resist temptations, and 
totters on the road. In the life of the 
Venerable Sister Mary Crucified we 
read that while at prayer she heard a 



1 2 2 Acquiring Perfection 

devil boasting that he had made a cer 
tain pious soul omit the accustomed 
meditation, and that afterwards, be 
cause he continued to tempt her, she 
was in danger of consenting to mortal 
sin. The servant of God ran to her, 
and with the divine aid rescued her 
from the criminal suggestion. Behold 
the danger to which one who omits 
meditation exposes his soul. St. Ter 
esa used to say that he who neglects 
mental prayer needs not a devil to 
carry him to hell, but that he brings 
himself there with his own hands. 
And the Abbot Diodes said that "the 
man who omits mental prayer soon 
becomes either a beast or a devil." 

Without petitions on our part God 
does not grant the divine helps, and 
without aid from God we cannot 
observe the commandments; hence 
the Apostle exhorted his disciples to 



Acquiring Perfection 123 

pray always. "Pray without ceas 
ing." Thess. v. 17.) "We are 
poor mendicants. I am a beggar 
and poor." (Ps. xxxix. 18.) The en 
tire revenue of the poor consists in 
asking alms from the rich; and our 
riches also consist in prayer, that is, 
in the prayer of petition; for by 
prayer, says St. John Chrysostom, 
"we may obtain from God His 
Graces. Without prayer it is abso 
lutely impossible to lead a good life." 
(De or D. i, i.) and, says the learned 
Monsignor Abelly, "what but the 
neglect of mental prayer can be the 
cause of the great relaxation of 
morals that we witness?" God has 
an ardent desire to enrich us with his 
graces, but, as St. Gregory writes, he 
wishes to be entreated, and, as it 
were, forced by our prayers to grant 
them to us. "God," says the holy 



124 Acquiring Perfection 

Doctor, "wishes to be asked, he 
wishes to be compelled, he wishes to 
be overcome by a certain importun 
ity." (In Ps. poenit. 6.) According 
to St. John Chrysostom, it is impos 
sible for him who attends to prayer 
to fall into sin. (Ad pop. Ant. horn. 
79.) And in another place he says 
that when the devils see that we pray, 
they immediately cease to tempt us. 
(De or D. 50, i.) 

From the absolute necessity of the 
prayer of petition arises the moral 
necessity of mental prayer; for he 
who neglects meditation, and is dis 
tracted with worldly affairs, will not 
know his spiritual wants, the dangers 
to which his salvation is exposed, the 
means which he must adopt in order 
to conquer temptations, or even the 
necessity of the prayer of petition for 
all men; thus he will give up the 



Acquiring Perfection 125 

practise of prayer, and by neglecting 
to ask God s graces, he will certainly 
be lost. The great Bishop Palafox, 
in his Annotations to the letters of 
St. Teresa, says: "How can charity 
last, unless God gives perseverance? 
How will the Lord give us persever 
ance if we neglect to ask Him for it? 
And how shall we ask it without men 
tal prayer? Without mental prayer, 
there is not the communication with 
God which is necessary for the pres 
ervation of virtue." And Cardinal 
Bellarmine says that for him who 
neglects meditation, it is morally im 
possible to live without sin. Some 
one may say, "I do not make mental 
prayer, but I say vocal prayers." 
But it is necessary to know, as St. 
Augustine remarks, that to obtain 
divine grace it is not enough to 
pray with the tongue: it is necessary 



126 Acquiring Perfection 

also to pray with the heart. On the 
words of David: "I cried to the 
Lord with my voice." (Ps. cxli. 2) 
the holy Doctor says: "Many cry 
not with their own voices (that is, 
not the interior voice of the soul), 
but with that of the body." "Your 
thoughts are a cry to the Lord." 
(Enarr. in Ps. cxli.) This is what 
the Apostle inculcates. "Praying at 
all times in the spirit." (Eph. vi. 
1 8.) "Cry within where God hears." 
(In Ps. xxx. en. 4.) In general, 
vocal prayers are said distractedly 
with the voice of the body, but not 
of the heart, especially when they are 
long, and still more especially when 
said by a person who does not make 
mental prayer; and therefore God 
seldom hears them, and seldom 
grants the graces asked. Many say 
the Rosary, the Office of the Blessed 



Acquiring Perfection 127 

Virgin, and perform other works of 
devotion; but they still continue in 
sin. It is impossible for him who 
perseveres in mental prayer to con 
tinue in sin; he will either give up 
meditations or denounce sin. A great 
servant of God used to say that men 
tal prayer and sin cannot exist to 
gether. And this we see by experi 
ence: they who make mental prayer 
rarely incur the enmity of God; and 
should they ever have the misfortune 
of falling into sin, by persevering in 
mental prayer they see their misery, 
and return to God. "Let a soul," 
says St. Teresa, "be ever so negligent, 
if she perseveres in meditation, the 
Lord will bring her back to the haven 
of salvation." (Life, ch. 8.) 

All the saints have become saints 
by mental prayer. Mental prayer is 
the blessed furnace in which souls are 



128 Acquiring Perfection 

inflamed with divine love. "In my 
meditation," says David, "a fire 
shall flame out." (Ps. xxxviii. 4.) St. 
Vincent of Paul used to say, that it 
would be a miracle if a sinner who 
attends at the sermons in the mission, 
or in the spiritual exercises, were not 
converted. Now, he who preaches 
and speaks in the exercises is only a 
man; but it is God himself that speaks 
to the soul in meditation. "I will 
lead her into the wilderness; and I 
will speak to her heart." (Osee ii. 
14.) St. Catherine of Bologna used 
to say: "He who does not practise 
mental prayer deprives himself of the 
bond that unites the soul to God; 
hence, finding her alone, the devil will 
easily make her his own." "How," 
she would say, "can I conceive that 
the love of God is found in the soul 



Acquiring Perfection 129 

that cares but little to treat with God 
in prayer?" 

Where but in meditation have the 
saints been inflamed with divine love ? 
By means of mental prayer St. Peter 
of Alcantara was inflamed to such a 
degree that in order to cool himself 
he ran into a frozen pool, and the 
frozen water began to boil like water 
in a caldron placed on a fire. In 
mental prayer St. Philip Neri became 
inflamed, and trembled so that he 
shook the entire room. In mental 
prayer St. Aloysius Gonzaga was so 
inflamed with divine ardor that his 
very face appeared to be on fire, and 
his heart beat as strongly as if it 
wished to fly from the body. 

St. Laurence Justinian says: u By 
the efficacy of mental prayer tempta 
tion is banished, sadness is driven 



130 Acquiring Perfection 

away, lost virtue is restored, fervor 
which has grown cold is excited, 
and the lovely flame of love is 
augmented." Hence, St. Aloysius 
Gonzaga has justly said that he who 
does not make much mental prayer 
will never attain a high degree of 
perfection. 

U A man of prayer," says David, 
"is like a tree planted near the current 
of waters, which brings forth fruit in 
due time; all his actions prosper 
before God. Blessed is the man 
. . . who shall meditate on his law 
day and night ! And he shall be like 
a tree which is planted near the run 
ning waters, which shall bring forth 
its fruit in due season, and his leaf 
shall not fall off : and all, whatsoever 
he shall do, shall prosper." (Ps. i. 
1-3.) Mark the words, in due sea 
son; that is, at the time when he 



Acquiring Perfection 131 

ought to bear such a pain, such an 
affront, etc. 

St. John Chrysostom compared 
mental prayer to a fountain in the 
middle of a garden. Oh! what an 
abundance of flowers and verdant 
plants do we see in the garden which 
is always refreshed with water from 
the fountain. Such, precisely, is the 
soul that practises mental prayer; 
you will see that she always advances 
in good desires, and that she always 
brings forth more abundant fruits of 
virtue. Whence does she receive so 
many blessings? From meditation, 
by which she is continually irrigated. 
Thy plants are a paradise of pome 
granates with the fruits of the 
orchard, . . . the fountain of gar 
dens, the well of living waters, 
which run with a strong stream from 
Libanus." (Cant. 4, 13.) But let the 



132 Acquiring Perfection 

fountain cease to water the garden, 
and, behold, the flowers, plants, and 
all instantly wither away; and why? 
Because the water has failed. You 
will see that as long as a soul makes 
mental prayer she is modest, humble, 
devout, and mortified in all things. 
But let her omit meditation, you will 
instantly find her wanting in modesty 
of the eyes, proud, resenting every 
word, indevout, no longer frequent 
ing the sacraments and the church; 
you will find her attached to vanity, 
to useless conversations, to pastimes, 
and to earthly pleasures; and why? 
The water has failed, and therefore 
fervor has ceased. "My soul is as 
earth without water unto thee . . . 
My spirit hath fainted away." (Ps. 
cxlii. 6, 7.) The soul has neglected 
mental prayer, the garden is there 
fore dried up, and the miserable soul 



Acquiring Perfection 133 

goes from bad to worse. When a 
soul abandons meditation St. John 
Chrysostom regards it not only as 
sick, but as dead. "He," says the 
holy Doctor, u who prays not to God, 
nor desires to enjoy assiduously his 
divine conversation, is dead. . . . 
The death of the soul is not to be 
prostrated before God." (D. i. i.) 
The same Father says that mental 
prayer is the root of the fruitful vine. 
(D. i, i.) And St. John Climacus 
writes that prayer is "a bulwark 
against the assault of afflictions, the 
spring of virtues, the procurer of 
graces." (Seal. par. gr. 23). 
Rufinus asserts that all the spiritual 
progress of the soul flows from 
mental prayer. (Ps. xxxvi.) And 
Gerson goes so far as to say, that "he 
who neglects meditation cannot, with- 



134 Acquiring Perfection 

out a miracle, lead the life of a 
Christian." (Med. cons. 7.) 

Speaking of mental prayer, Jere- 
mias says: u He shall sit solitary, and 
hold his peace; because he hath taken 
it up upon himself." (Lam. iii. 28.) 
That is, a soul cannot have a relish 
for God, unless it withdraws from 
creatures, and sits, that is stops, to 
contemplate the goodness, the love, 
the amiableness of God. But when 
solitary and recollected in meditation, 
that is, when it takes away its 
thoughts from the world, it is then 
raised above itself, and departs from 
prayer very different from what it 
was when it began it. 

St. Ignatius of Loyola used to say 
that mental prayer is the short way 
to attain perfection. In a word, he 
who advances most in meditation 
makes the most progress in per- 



Acquiring Perfection 135 

fection. In mental prayer the soul 
is filled with holy thoughts, with holy 
affections, desires, and holy resolu 
tions, and with love for God. There 
man sacrifices his passions, his appe 
tites, his earthly attachments, and all 
the interests of self-love. Moreover, 
by praying for them in mental prayer 
we can save many sinners, as was 
done by St. Teresa, St. Mary 
Magdalene de Pazzi, and is done by 
all souls enamoured of God, who 
never omit in their meditations to 
recommend to him all infidels, here 
tics and all poor sinners; begging him 
also to give zeal to priests who work 
in his vineyard, that they may con 
vert his enemies. In mental prayer 
we can also, by the sole desire of 
performing them, gain merit of 
many good works which we do not 
perform. For as the Lord punishes 



136 Acquiring Perfection 

the bad desires, so, on the other 
hand, he rewards all our good de 
sires. 

It is necessary, above all, to be 
careful not to go to mental prayer in 
order to enjoy consolation and ten 
derness, but for the purpose of pleas 
ing God, and of learning from him 
how he wishes to be loved and served 
by us. Father Balthazar Alvarez 
used to say: "The love of God con 
sists not in receiving his favors, but 
in serving him through the sole mo 
tive of pleasing him. And he would 
say that divine consolation is like the 
refreshment that we take on a jour 
ney not to rest in it, but in order 
to go forward with greater vigor. 
When you feel aridity in meditation, 
be careful to persevere, in spite of 
all the tediousness that you experi 
ence, and know then that you give 



Acquiring Perfection 137 

great pleasure to your Spouse and 
acquire great merits. Say to Him 
then: "O my Jesus, why dost Thou 
treat me thus? Thou hast stripped 
me of all things, of property, of rela 
tives, of my will, and I have been 
satisfied with all these privations, in 
order to gain Thee; but why dost 
Thou now deprive me also of Thy 
self?" Say this to Him with an hum 
ble affection; He will make thee feel 
that he does all because He loves 
thee, and for thy greater good. 
Father Torres used to say: "To 
carry the cross with Jesus without 
consolation, makes the soul run and 
fly to perfection." 

PRAYER 

My Jesus, Thou hast loved me in 
the midst of pains; and in the midst 



138 Acquiring Perfection 

of sufferings I wish to love Thee. 
Thou hast spared nothing: Thou 
hast even given Thy blood and Thy 
life in order to gain my love; and 
shall I continue as hitherto, to be re 
served in loving Thee? No, my Re 
deemer, it shall not be so; the in 
gratitude with which I have hitherto 
treated Thee is sufficient. To Thee 
I consecrate my whole heart. Thou 
alone dost deserve all my love. Thee 
alone do I wish to love. My God, 
since Thou wishest me to be entirely 
Thine, give me strength to serve 
Thee as Thou deservest, during the 
remainder of my life. Pardon my 
tepidity and my past infidelities. 
How often have I omitted mental 
prayer in order to indulge my ca 
price. Alas! how often, when it 
was in my power to remain with Thee 
in order to please Thee, have I re- 



Acquiring Perfection 139 

mained with creatures so as to offend 
Thee. Oh! that so many lost years 
would return! But, since they will 
not return, the remaining days of my 
life must be entirely Thine, O my 
beloved Lord. I love Thee, O my 
Jesus ! I love Thee, O my Sovereign 
Good! Thou art, and shalt be for 
ever, the only love of my soul. 

O Mother of fair love, O Mary, 
obtain for me the grace to love thy 
Son, and to spend the remainder of 
my life in His love. Thou dost obtain 
from Jesus whatsoever thou wishest; 
through thy prayers I hope for this 
gift. 



140 Acquiring Perfection 



THE PRACTISE OF MENTAL PRAYER 

Having seen the great necessity of 
mental prayer for Christians, and the 
great blessings that they may draw 
from it, let us now consider the 
practise of meditation, with regard 
to the place, and the manner. 

I. THE PLACE SUITABLE FOR MENTAL 
PRAYER 

With regard to the place, it should 
be solitary. "But," said our Saviour, 
"when thou shalt pray, enter into thy 
chamber, and having shut the door, 
pray to thy Father in secret." ( Matt, 
vi. 6.). When you wish to pray, 
shut yourself up in your chamber, 
and thus pray to your Father. 
St. Bernard says that silence and 



Acquiring Perfection 141 

the absence of all noise almost 
force the soul to think of the goods 
of heaven. (Epist. 78.). 

To make mental prayer, the best 
place is, as has been said, your own 
room ; but for Religious the most ap- 
propiate place is the church, in pres 
ence of the Blessed Sacrament. The 
Venerable Father Avila used to say 
that he knew no sanctuary more de 
sirable than a church in which 
Jesus Christ remains in the Holy 
Eucharist. 

In order to make mental prayer 
well, it is necessary to unite to the 
external silence interior silence, that 
is, detachment from earthly af 
fections. Speaking of certain persons 
attached to the world, our Lord said 
one day to St. Teresa : "I would wish 
to speak to them, but creatures make 
such a noise in their ears that they do 



142 Acquiring Perfection 

not give me a moment in which I can 
make them listen to me." 



2. THE TIME OF MAKING MENTAL 
PRAYER 

i. With regard to the time of mak 
ing mental prayer, St. Isidore used to 
say, that, ordinarily speaking, the 
fittest time for meditation is the morn 
ing and evening. (Spec. disc. p. i, c. 
12.) But according to St. Gregory 
of Nyssa, the morning is the most 
seasonable time for prayer; because, 
says the saint, when prayer precedes 
business, sin will not gain admission to 
the soul. (DeOr. Dom. or. I.) The 
Venerable Father Charles Carafa, 
founder of the Congregation of the 
Pious Workers, used to say that a 
fervent act of love made in the morn 
ing during meditation is sufficient to 



Acquiring Perfection 143 

maintain the soul in fervor during 
the entire day. Prayer, as St. Jerome 
has written, is also necessary in the 
evening. (Ad. Eustoch.) Let not 
the body go to rest before the soul is 
refreshed by mental prayer, which is 
the food of the soul. But at all times 
and in all places pious souls can pray, 
even at work, or at recreation; it is 
enough for them to raise the mind to 
God and to make good acts, for in 
this consists mental prayer. 

2. With regard to the time to be 
spent in mental prayer, the rule of the 
saints was, to devote to it all the 
hours that were not necessary for the 
occupations of human life. St. Fran 
cis Borgia employed eight hours in 
the day in meditation, because his 
Superiors would not allow him a 
longer time, and when the eight hours 
were expired, he earnestly asked per- 



144 Acquiring Perfection 

mission to remain a little longer at 
prayer, saying, "Ah ! give me another 
little quarter of an hour." St. 
Philip Neri was accustomed to spend 
the entire night in prayer. St. 
Anthony the Abbot remained the 
whole night at prayer, and when the 
sun appeared, which was the time as 
signed for terminating his prayer, he 
complained of it for having risen too 
soon. Father Balthazar Alvarez 
used to say that a soul that loves God, 
when not in prayer, is like a stone out 
of its centre, in a violent state; for 
in this life we should as much as pos 
sible imitate the life of the saints in 
bliss, who are constantly employed in 
the contemplation of God. 

It is right to observe, that with re 
gard to the posture the fittest one is 
kneeling; but when it causes pain and 
distraction, a person may, as St. John 



Acquiring Perfection 145 

of the Cross says, make meditation 
sitting in a modest posture. 



3. THE MANNER OF MAKING MENTAL 
PRAYER 

As to the manner of making mental 
prayer, I will suppose that you are 
already instructed in it; but allow me 
to explain briefly the principal parts 
of mental prayer for any beginner 
into whose hands this book may fall. 

Mental prayer contains three parts : 
the preparation, the meditation, and 
the conclusion. 

In the preparation there are three 
acts: an act of faith, of the presence 
of God, and of adoration; an act of 
humility and sorrow for our sins, and 
a petition for light. They may be 
made in the following manner: My 
God, I believe Thee present within 



146 Acquiring Perfection 

me; I adore Thee with my whole 
soul. 

Be careful to make this act with a 
lively faith, for a lively remembrance 
of the Divine Presence contributes 
greatly to remove distractions. Car 
dinal Carracciolo, Bishop of Aversa, 
used to say that when a person is dis 
tracted in meditation there is reason 
to think that he has not made a lively 
act of faith. 

Lord, I should now be in hell in 
punishment of the offences I have 
offered to Thee. I am sorry for them 
from the bottom of my heart; have 
mercy on me. 

Eternal Father, for the sake of 
Jesus and Mary, give me light in this 
meditation, that I may draw fruit 
from it. 

We must, then, recommend our 
selves to the Blessed Virgin by saying 



Acquiring Perfection 147 

a Hail Mary, to St. Joseph, to our 
guardian angel, and to our holy 
patron. 

These acts, according to St. Francis 
de Sales, ought to be made with 
fervor, but should be short, that we 
may pass immediately to the medita 
tion. 

On entering on the meditation we 
must take leave of all extraneous 
thoughts, saying with St. Bernard, "O 
my thoughts ! wait here ; ( De cont. D. 
c. i.) after prayer we shall speak on 
other matters." Be careful not to 
allow the mind to wander where it 
wishes; but should a distracting 
thought enter, we must not be dis 
turbed, nor seek to banish it with a 
violent effort, but let us remove it 
calmly and return to God. Let us 
remember that the devil labors hard 
to disturb us in the time of meditation 



148 Acquiring Perfection 

in order to make us abandon it. Let 
him, then, who omits mental prayer 
on account of distractions be per 
suaded that he gives delight to the 
devil. "It is impossible," says Cas- 
sian, "that our minds should be free 
from all distractions during prayer." 
(Collat. 23, c. 7). Let us, then, 
never give up meditation, however 
great our distraction may be. St. 
Francis de Sales (Letter 629) says 
that if in mental prayer we should do 
nothing else than continually banish 
distractions and temptations, the 
meditation is well made. And before 
him St. Thomas taught that involun 
tary distractions do not take away the 
fruit of mental prayer. (2. 2, q. 83, 
a. 13.) When we perceive that we 
are deliberately distracted, let us 
desist from the voluntary defect, and 
banish the distraction, but let us be 



Acquiring Perfection 149 

careful not to discontinue our medita 
tion. 

With regard to the subject-matter 
of meditation, the best rule is to 
meditate on the truths or mysteries in 
which the soul finds most nourishment 
and devotion. But above all, for a 
soul that loves perfection the most 
appropriate subject is the Passion 
of Jesus Christ. Blosius writes that 
our Lord revealed to several holy 
women, St. Gertrude, St. Bridget, St. 
Mechtilde, and St. Catherine of 
Siena that they who meditate on 
his Passion are very dear to him. 
According to St. Francis de Sales, 
(Introd. p. 2, ch. i.) the passion of 
our Redeemer should be the ordinary 
subject of the meditations of every 
Christian. Oh what an excellent book 
is the Passion of Jesus! There we 
understand better than in any other 



150 Acquiring Perfection 

book the malice of sin, and also the 
mercy and love of God for man. To 
me it appears that Jesus Christ has 
suffered so many different pains, the 
scourging, the crowning with thorns, 
the crucifixion, etc., that having be 
fore our eyes so many painful mys 
teries we might have a variety of 
different subjects for meditating on 
His passion, by which we might excite 
sentiment of gratitude and love. 

When she is alone at meditation a 
soul will do well always to make 
mental prayer with the aid of a 
book. St. Teresa used a book for 
seventeen years: she would first read 
a little, and then meditate for a short 
time on what she had read. It is use 
ful to meditate in this manner, in 
imitation of a pigeon, that first drinks 
and then raises its eyes to heaven. 

However, let it be remembered 



Acquiring Perfection 151 

that the advantage of mental prayer 
consists not so much in meditating as 
in making affections, petitions and 
resolutions: these are the three prin 
cipal fruits of meditation. "The 
progress of a soul," says St. Teresa, 
"does not consist of thinking much of 
God, but in loving Him ardently; 
and this love is acquired by resolving 
to do a great deal for Him." 
(Found, ch. 5.) Speaking of men 
tal prayer, the spiritual masters say 
that meditation is, as it were, the 
needle which when it has passed must 
be succeeded by the golden thread 
composed, as has been said, of 
affections, resolutions, and petitions. 
When you have reflected on the 
point of meditation, and feel any 
pious sentiment, raise your heart to 
God and offer Him acts of humility, 
of confidence, or of thanksgiving; 



152 Acquiring Perfection 

but above all, repeat in mental prayer 
acts of contrition and of love. 

The act of love, as also of con 
trition, is the golden chain that binds 
the soul to God. An act of perfect 
charity is sufficient for the remission 
of all our sins. "Charity covereth a 
multitude of sins." (i Pet. iv. 8.) 
The Lord has declared that He can 
not hate the soul that loves Him: 
"I love them that love me." (Prov. 
viii. 17.) The Venerable Sister 
Mary Crucified once saw a globe of 
fire in which some straws that had 
been thrown into it were instantly 
consumed. By this vision she was 
given to understand that a soul by 
making a true act of love obtains 
the remission of all its faults. 
Besides, the Angelic Doctor teaches 
that by every act of love we acquire a 
new degree of glory. "Every act of 



Acquiring Perfection 153 

chanty," says the saint, "merits 
eternal life." (i. 2. q. 114, a. 7.) 
Acts of love may be made in the fol 
lowing manner: 

My God, I esteem Thee more 
than all things. 

I love Thee with my whole heart. 
I delight in Thy felicity. 

I would wish to see Thee loved by 
all. 

I wish only what Thou wishest. 

Make known to me what Thou 
wishest from me, and I will do it. 

Dispose as Thou pleasest of me 
and of all that I possess. 

This last act of oblation is par 
ticularly pleasing to God. St. Teresa 
was accustomed to offer herself to 
God in this manner at least fifty times 
day. 

Remember in this chapter we 
speak of the ordinary mental prayer; 



154 Acquiring Perfection 

for should a soul feel itself at any 
time united to God by supernatural 
or infused recollection, without any 
particular thought of an eternal 
truth or of any divine mystery, it 
should not labor then to perform 
any other acts than those to which 
it feels itself sweetly drawn to God. 
It is then enough to endeavor with 
loving attention to remain united 
with God without impeding the divine 
operation, or forcing oneself to 
make reflections and acts. But this 
is to be understood when the Lord 
calls the soul to this supernatural 
prayer; but until we receive such a 
call we should not depart from the 
ordinary method of mental prayer, 
but should, as it has been said, make 
use of meditations and affections. 
However, for persons accustomed to 
mental prayer it is better to apply 



Acquiring Perfection 155 

themselves in affections than in con 
siderations. 

Moreover, in mental prayer it is 
very profitable, and perhaps more 
useful than any other act, to repeat 
petitions to God, asking with humility 
and confidence his graces; that is, his 
light, resignation, perseverance, and 
the like; but above all, the gift of his 
holy love. St. Francis de Sales used 
to say, that by obtaining the divine 
love we obtain all graces; for a soul 
that truly loves God with its whole 
heart will of itself, without being 
admonished by others, abstain from 
giving him the smallest displeasure, 
and will labor to please him to the 
best of its ability. 

When you find yourself in aridity 
and darkness, so that you feel, as it 
were, incapable of making good acts, 
it is sufficient to say: "My Jesus, 



156 Acquiring Perfection 

mercy. Lord, for the sake of Thy 
mercy, assist me." And the medita 
tion made in this manner will be for 
you, perhaps, the most useful and 
fruitful. 

The Venerable Paul Segneri used 
to say that until he studied theology 
he employed himself during the time 
of mental prayer in making reflec 
tions and affections; but "God" 
(these are his own words) "after 
wards opened my eyes, and thence 
forward T endeavored to employ 
myself in petitions, and if there is 
any good in me, I ascribe it to the 
exercise of recommending myself to 
God." Do you likewise do the same; 
ask of God his graces in the name of 
Jesus Christ, and you shall obtain 
whatsoever you desire.. This our 
Saviour has promised, and his prom 
ise cannot fail: "Amen, amen, I say 



Acquiring Perfection 157 

to you, if you ask the Father any 
thing in my name, he will give it you." 
(John, xvi. 23.) 

In a word, all mental prayer 
should consist in acts and petitions. 
Hence the Venerable Sister Mary 
Crucified, while in an ecstasy, de 
clared that mental prayer is the 
respiration of the soul; for as by 
respiration the air is first attracted 
and afterward given back, so by 
petitions the soul first receives grace 
from God, and then by good acts of 
oblation and love it gives itself to 
him. 

In finishing the meditation it is 
necessary to make a particular reso 
lution; as, for example, to avoid 
some particular defect into which you 
have more frequently fallen, or to 
practise some virtue, such as to suffer 
the annoyance that you receive from 



158 Acquiring Perfection 

a fellowman, to obey more exactly 
a certain superior, to perform some 
particular act of mortification. We 
must repeat the same resolution 
several times until we find that we 
have got rid of the defect or acquired 
the virtue. Afterwards reduce to 
practise the resolutions you have 
made as soon as an occasion presents 
itself. 

The conclusion of meditation con 
sists of three acts: i. In thanking 
God for the lights received; 2. In 
making a purpose to fulfil the reso 
lutions made; 3. In asking of the 
eternal Father for the sake of Jesus 
and Mary grace to be faithful to 
them. 

Be careful never to omit at the end 
of meditation to recommend to God 
the souls in Purgatory and poor 
sinners. St. John Chrysostom says 



Acquiring Perfection 159 

that nothing more clearly shows the 
love of a soul for Jesus Christ than 
her zeal in recommending her 
brethren to him. (Contra Anom. 
horn. 6.) 

St. Francis de Sales remarks that 
in leaving mental prayer we should 
take with us a nosegay of flowers, in 
order to smell them during the day; 
that is, we should remember one or 
two points in which we felt particular 
devotion in order to excite our fer 
vor during the day. 

The ejaculations that are dearest 
to God are those of love, of resig 
nation, of oblation of ourselves. 
Let us endeavor not to perform any 
action without first offering it to God, 
and not to allow at the most a quarter 
of an hour to pass, in whatever occu 
pations we may find ourselves, with 
out raising the heart to the Lord by 



160 Acquiring Perfection 

some good act. Moreover, in our 
leisure time, such as when we are 
waiting for a person, or when we 
walk in the garden, or are confined to 
bed by sickness, let us endeavor to the 
best of our ability to unite ourselves 
to God. It is also necessary by 
observing silence, by seeking solitude 
as much as possible, and by remem 
bering the presence of God, to pre 
serve the pious sentiments conceived 
in meditation. 

I here add, that in order to be a 
soul of prayer, a Christian must 
resist with fortitude all temptations 
to discontinue mental prayer in the 
time of aridity. St. Teresa has left us 
very excellent instructions on this 
point. In one place she says : "I hold 
for certain that the Lord will conduct 
to the haven of salvation the soul that 
perseveres in mental prayer, in spite 



Acquiring Perfection 161 

of all the sins that the devil may 
oppose." (Life, ch. 8.) In another 
place she says: "The devil knows 
that he has lost the soul that 
perseveringly practises mental 
prayer." (Life, ch. 19.) Again 
she says: "He that does not 
stop in the way of mental prayer, 
reaches the end of his journey, 
though he should delay a little." 
(Life, ch. 19.) "The love of God 
does not consist in experiencing 
tender affections, but in serving him 
with courage and humility." (Life, 
ch. ii.) 

Finally she concludes, saying: "By 
aridity and temptations the Lord 
proves his lovers. Though aridity 
should last for life, let not the soul 
give up prayer: the time will come 
when all will be well rewarded." 
(Life, ch. 11.) 



1 62 Acquiring Perfection 

The Angelic Doctor says that true 
devotion consists not in feeling, but in 
the desire and resolution to embrace 
promptly all that God wills. (2. 2. q. 
82. a. i.) Such was the prayer that 
Jesus Christ made in the garden; it 
was all full of aridity and tediousness, 
but it was the most devout and meri 
torious prayer that had ever been 
offered in this world: it consisted of 
these words: "Not what I will, but 
what thou wilt." (Mark, xiv, 36.) 

Dear Christian, never give up 
mental prayer in the time of aridity. 
Should the tediousness that assails 
you be very great, divide your medi 
tations into several parts, and employ 
yourself for the most part in petitions 
to God, even though you should seem 
to pray without confidence and with 
out fruit. It will be sufficient to say 
and repeat: "My Jesus, mercy." 



Acquiring Perfection 163 

"Lord, have mercy on me." Pray, 
and doubt not that God will hear you 
and grant your petitions. 

And in going to meditation, never 
propose to yourself, your own 
pleasure and satisfaction, but only 
to please God, and to learn what he 
wishes you to do. And for this pur 
pose pray always that God may make 
known to you his will, and that he 
may give you strength to fulfil it. All 
that we ought to seek in mental 
prayer is light to know and strength 
to accomplish the will of God in our 
regard. 

PRAYER 

Ah ! my Jesus, it appears that Thou 
couldst do nothing more, in order to 
gain the love of men. It is enough to 
know that Thou hast wished to be 
come man; that is, to become like us, 



164 Acquiring Perfection 

a worm. Thou hast wished to lead 
a painful life, of thirty-three years, 
amid sorrow and ignominies, and in 
the end to die on an infamous gibbet. 
Thou hast also wished to remain 
under the appearance of bread, in 
order to become the food of our 
souls; and how is it possible that 
Thou hast received so much ingrati 
tude, even from Christians that be 
lieve these truths and still love Thee 
so little? Unhappy me! I have 
hitherto been among those ungrateful 
souls; I have attended only to my 
pleasures, and have been forgetful of 
Thee and of Thy love. I now know 
the evil I have done ; but I repent of 
it with my whole heart; my Jesus, 
pardon me. I now love Thee; I love 
Thee so ardently that I choose 
death, and a thousand deaths, rather 
than cease to love Thee. I thank 



Acquiring Perfection 165 

Thee for the light that Thou hast 
given me. Give me strength, O God 
of my soul, always to advance in Thy 
love. Accept this poor heart to love 
Thee. It is true that it has once 
despised Thee, but now it is en 
amoured of Thy goodness; it loves 
Thee and desires only to love Thee. 
O Mary, Mother of God, assist 
me; in thy intercession I place great 
confidence. 



CONCLUSION 

REV. GERARD TILLAMANN, 
C.SS.R., in his book, Das 
Gebet, Vol. II, speaks of dif 
ferent methods of meditation. He 
has a number of chapters on 
the methods of meditation of 
the Fathers of the Desert, of 
St. Bonaventure, St. Peter of Alcan 
tara, St. Ignatius and St. Francis de 
Sales. Of the above method of St. 
Alphonsus he says it is the easiest and 
simplest. The distinctive mark of 
the method of St. Alphonsus is that 
the Saint insists in a most especial 
manner on making frequent and 
fervent acts of petition. The Saint 
166 



Conclusion 167 

regards this as the most important 
and useful part. Ven. Fr. Passerat, 
C.SS.R., said on one occasion, u You 
complain you cannot meditate. Well, 
then, propound to yourself these 
four questions: What did I read? 
What conclusion must I draw? 
What have I done hitherto? What 
must I do in future? Strive to 
answer these questions the best 
way you can and you will 
have made an excellent meditation." 
From all this it becomes clear that 
in meditation we employ the three 
faculties of the soul. The memory 
recalls the subject of consideration. 
The intellect thinks the matter over. 
The will utilizes it for acts of faith, 
charity, humility and petition, etc. 

In connection herewith it may be 
remarked that many complain of the 
difficulty of remaining recollected. 



1 68 Conclusion 

The distractions that assail us are 
incessant. What is the remedy? 
Endeavor to have some method or 
rule to guide you. For instance make 
an act of contrition, a spiritual com 
munion and a short salutation to Our 
Lady every quarter of an hour. The 
latter also may be short, as: Sweet 
Heart of Mary, be my salvation. 
Every act of true sorrow is according 
to St. Thomas an act of love. (Fr. 
Boumanns, (C.SS.R.) 

SALVE REGINA 

Hail, holy Queen, mother of 
mercy, our life, our sweetness and our 
hope, hail! To thee do we cry, poor 
banished children of Eve; to thee do 
we send up our sighs, mourning and 
weeping in this valley of tears! Turn 
then, most gracious advocate, thine 



Conclusion 169 

eyes of mercy toward us, and after 
this our exile, show unto us the 
blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus. O 
clement, O merciful, O sweet Virgin 
Mary. 



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JUVENILES 

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10 



As TRUE AS GOLD. Mannix. 45 

ARMORER OF SOLINGEN. Hercnenbach. 45 

BELL FOUNDRY, THE. Schaching. 45 
BERKLEYS, THE. Wight. 
BEST FOOT FORWARD. Finn. 

BETWEEN FRIENDS. Aumerle. 85 

BLACK LADY, THE. Schmid. 25 

BISTOURI. Melandri. 45 

BLISSYLVANIA POST-OFFICE. Taggart. 45 
BOB-O -LINK. Waggaman. 
BOYS IN THE BLOCK. Egan. 

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BUZZER S CHRISTMAS. Waggaman. 

BY BRANSCOME RIVER. Taggart. 45 
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45 

CAPTAIN TED. Waggaman. 60 
CAVE BY THE BEECH FORK, THE. Spalding. 85 

CHARLIE CHITTYWICK. Bearne. 85 
CHILDREN OF CUPA. Mannix. 

CHILDREN OF THE LOG CABIN. Delamare. 85 
CLARE LORAINE. "Lee." 

CLAUDE LIGHTFOOT. Finn. 85 
COLLEGE BOY, A. Yorke. 

CUPA REVISITED. Mannix. 45 

DADDY DAN. Waggaman. 45 

DEAR FRIENDS. Nirdlineer. 60 

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DOLLAR HUNT, THE. E. G. Martin. 

ETHELRED PRESTON. Finn. 85 

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FLOWER OF THE FLOCK. Egan. 
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FREDDY CARR AND His FRIENDS. Garrold. 85 

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GODFREY THE LITTLE HERMIT. Schmid. 25 

GOLDEN LILY, THE. Hinkson. 45 
GREAT CAPTAIN, THE. Hinkson. 

GUILD BOYS OF RIDINGDALE. Bearne. 85 

HALDEMAN CHILDREN. THE. Mannix. 45 

HARMONY FLATS. Whitmire. 85 
HARRY DEE. Finn. 

HARRY RUSSELL. Copus. 85 

HEIR OF DREAMS, AN. O Malley. 45 

11 



His FIRST AND LAST APPEARANCE. Finn. 1 00 

HOP BLOSSOMS, THE. Schmid. 25 

HOSTAGE OF WAR. Bonesteel. 45 

How THEY WORKED THEIR WAY. Egan. 75 

IN QUEST OF THE GOLDEN CHEST. Barton. 1 15 
INUNDATION, THE, AND OTHER TALES. Herchenbach. 

45 

JACK. 45 

TACK HILDRETH ON THE NILE. Taggart. 85 

TACK O LANTERN. Waggaman. 45 

TUNIORS OF ST. BEDE S. Bryson. 85 

TUVENILE ROUND TABLE. First Series. 1 00 

JUVENILE ROUND TABLE. Second Series. 1 00 

FUVENILE ROUND TABLE. Third Series. 1 00 

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LAMP OF THE SANCTUARY. Wiseman. 25 
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MANY LANDS. Lutz. 75 

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LITTLE GIRL FROM BACK EAST. Roberts. 45 

LITTLE MISSY. Waggaman. 45 

LOYAL BLUE AND ROYAL SCARLET. Taggart. 85 

MADCAP SET AT ST. ANNE S. Brunowe. 45 

MAKING OF MORTLAKE. Copus. 85 

MARKS OF THE BEAR CLAWS. Spalding. 85 

MARY TRACY S FORTUNE. Sadlier. 45 

MASTER FRIDOLIN. Giehrl. 25 

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MILLY AVELING. S. T. Smith. 85 

MORE FIVE O CLOCK STORIES. 75 

MOSTLY BOYS. Finn. 85 

MY STRANGE FRIEND. Finn. 25 

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MYSTERIOUS DOORWAY. Sadlier. 45 

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NAN NOBODY. Waggaman. 45 

NED RIEDER. Wehs. 85 

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NEW SCHOLAR AT ST. ANNE S. Brunowe. 85 

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OVERSEER OF MAHLBOURG. Schmid. 25 

PANCHO AND PANCHITA. Mannix. 45 

PAULINE ARCHER. Sadlier. 45 

PERIL OF DIONYSIO. Mannix. 45 

PERCY WYNN. Finn. 85 

PETRONILLA. Donnelly. 85 

13 



PICKLE AND PEPPER. Dorsey. 
PILGRIM FROM IRELAND. Carnot. 
PLAYWATER PLOT. Waggaman. 
POVERINA. Buckenham. 
QUEEN S PAGE. Hinkson. 
QUEEN S PROMISE. Waggaman. 
RACE FOR COPPER ISLAND. Spalding. 
RECRUIT TOMMY COLLINS. Bonesteel. 

RlDINGDALE FLOWER SHOW. BeamC. 

ROMANCE OF THE SILVER SHOON. Bearne. 

ROSE BUSH, THE. Schmid. 

SEA-GULLS ROCK. Sandeau. 

SEVEN LITTLE MARSHALLS. Nixon-Roulet. 

SEVEN LITTLE MARSHALLS AT THE LAKE. 

Roulet. 

SHADOWS LIFTED. Copus. 
SHEER PLUCK. Bearne. 
SHERIFF OF THE BEECH FORK. Spalding. 
ST. CUTHBERT S. Copus. 
STRONG ARM OF AVALON. Waggaman. 
SUGAR-CAMP AND AFTER. Spalding. 
SUMMER AT WOODVILLE. Sadlier. 
TALES AND LEGENDS OF THB MIDDLE AGES. 



TALISMAN, THE. Sadlier. 

TAMING OF POLLY. Dorsey. 

THAT FOOTBALL GAME. Finn. 

THREE GIRLS AND ESPECIALLY ONE. Taggart 

THREE LITTLE KINGS. Giehrl. 

TOLD IN THE TWILIGHT. Mother Salome. 

TOM LOSELY: BOY. Copus. 

TOM S LUCK-POT. Waggaman. 

TOM PLAYFAIR. Finn. 

TOORALLADDY. Walsh. 

TRANSPLANTING OF TESSIE. Waggaman. 
TREASURE OF NUGGET MOUNTAIN. Taggart. 
Two LITTLE GIRLS. Mack. 
VIOLIN MAKER, THE. Schaching. 
WAGER OF GERALD O RouRKE. Play adapted from a 
story by Father Finn. net, 35 

WAYWARD WINIFRED. Sadlier. 
WINNETOU THE APACHE KNIGHT. Taggart. 85 
WITCH OF RIDINGDALE. Bearne. 
WRONGFULLY ACCUSED. Herchenbach. 45 

YOUNG COLOR GUARD. Bonesteel. 45 



88 

60 
85 
45 
60 

85 
45 
85 
85 
25 
45 
45 
Nixon- 
85 
85 
85 
85 
85 
85 
85 
45 
Copella. 
75 
60 
85 
85 
45 
25 
85 
85 
45 
85 
45 
60 
85 
45 
45 



13 



59247